By Geydy Martinez
When I first heard that Hunger, by Roxane Gay was chosen for this year’s annual book celebration, I was not very thrilled. Based on the book’s cover, which is white with only a fork resting on its surface, I had the idea that it was going to be about some overly obese person who somehow managed to shrink down to a size zero and is now living the best life she can and trying to motivate others to do the same.
Weight loss stories are not my cup of tea. Personally, as someone who has struggled with weight issues, I think reading weight loss stories does more psychological harm than good and doesn’t motivate people. Despite my skepticism, I did pick up a copy of the book when the library set up a table of free copies. I guess it was my internal hoarder instincts that made me do it. I tossed it in my trunk and it stayed there until the day of the celebration.
On Thursday, Oct. 18, the day of the celebration, I arrived to Grand Salon five minutes before the doors opened. I forgot just how many people actually attend this event. Last time I came to the annual reading celebration was four years ago when I was bribed to do so by one of my professors.
The auditorium was filled with more chairs than I could count. I sat near the front with a group of friends. It seemed like only a minute had passed before I turned around and saw that 90 percent of the chairs had been claimed.
At 5:30 p.m., Prince Salvador, an associate for the Peer Education Equality Program (PEEP), came on stage and welcomed us to the event, followed by a short introduction of Roxane Gay given by his colleague, Alyssa Smith, also an associate for PEEP. The evening started out with Gay reading some excerpts from her book which ranged from her resentment of going to the gym to tracking down her assailant. It was only during this time that I realized just how wrong I had been in ruling her book out of my reading list. After the excerpt reading, the audience was encouraged to ask Gay questions. Many students talked about their adoration of her and her work and others expressed intimate stories of their sexual assault experiences. I was taken aback by the stories students shared. It’s heartbreaking and infuriating just how common sexual assault is in today’s society.
After Gay answered questions, we had the opportunity to get our book signed. No one wasted any time in forming a line. Shortly after getting my book signed I headed home where I read the first chapter of Hunger. Let me tell you, it’s not a New York Times bestseller for nothing.