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Body Language: Writers on Identity, Physicality, and Making Space for Ourselves (Paperback)
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A kaleidoscopic anthology of essays published by Catapult magazine about the stories our bodies tell, and how we move within—and against—expectations of race, gender, health, and ability
Bodies are serious, irreverent, sexy, fragile, strong, political, and inseparable from our experiences and identities as human beings. Pushing the dialogue and confronting monolithic myths, this collection of essays tackles topics like weight, disability, desire, fertility, illness, and the embodied experience of race in deep, challenging ways.
Selected from the archives of Catapult magazine, the essays in Body Language affirm and challenge the personal and political conversations around human bodies from the perspectives of thirty writers diverse in race, age, gender, size, sexuality, health, ability, geography, and class—a brilliant group probing and speaking their own truths about their bodies and identities, refusing to submit to others’ expectations about how their bodies should look, function, and behave.
Covering a wide range of experiences—from art modeling as a Black woman to nostalgia for a brutalizing high school sport, from the frightening upheaval of cancer diagnoses to the small beauties of funeral sex—this collection is intelligent, sensitive, and unflinchingly candid. Through the power of personal narratives, as told by writers at all stages of their careers, Body Language reflects the many ways in which we understand and inhabit our bodies.
Featuring essays by A.E. Osworth, Andrea Ruggirello, Aricka Foreman, Austin Gilkeson, Bassey Ikpi, Bryan Washington, Callum Angus, Destiny O. Birdsong, Eloghosa Osunde, Forsyth Harmon, Gabrielle Bellot, Haley Houseman, Hannah Walhout, Jenny Tinghui Zhang, Jess Zimmerman, Kaila Philo, Karissa Chen, Kayla Whaley, Maggie Tokuda-Hall, Marcos Gonsalez, Marisa Crane, Melissa Hung, Natalie Lima, Nina Riggs, Rachel Charlene Lewis, Ross Showalter, s.e. smith, Sarah McEachern, Taylor Harris, and Toni Jensen.
About the Author
NICOLE CHUNG is the author of All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir, a contributing writer at The Atlantic, and the former editor-in-chief of Catapult magazine.
MATT ORTILE is the author of The Groom Will Keep His Name and the executive editor of Catapult magazine.
A NPR Best Book of the Year
A BookPage Most Anticipated Nonfiction Book of the Year
"Essential." —Karla Strand, Ms.
"These writers bring insight and nuance to the weird and wonderful topic of embodiment." —Sarah Neilson, Shondaland
"Body Language is one of the best essay collections I’ve read in a long time . . . The diversity of identities within this collection is astounding in the best of ways . . . These essays in Body Language are tinted windows sitting on 24s, a fierce subwoofer booming in the back—a vehicle demanding your engagement with its audacity, pushing you forward to a reckoning with your own body in this world." —shea wesley martin, Autostraddle
"These honest and reflective essays will make you think about your own body and how you relate to it and perhaps even provoke some change." —Jaime Herndon, Book Riot
"Body Language gathers 30 essays from Catapult’s archive that venture into that unspoken territory—with essays about weight, disability, athleticism, fertility, race, disordered eating, gender, and more—featuring writers you know and love and others you’ll be glad to encounter." —Eliza Smith, A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Book of the Year
"These smart, affecting, and vulnerable essays, chronicling a vast range of experiences, inspire and illuminate." —Booklist (starred review)
"Many of the 30 essays will resonate with inquisitive, searching teen readers." —Booklist (YA) (starred review)
"Chung’s writing and editing are a great gift to us all, and in Body Language she teams up with the also wonderful Matt Ortile to edit an anthology about embodiment, race, desire, illness, and more, with essays from some of the most exciting writers publishing nowadays." —An Electric Literature Most Anticipated Title of the Year
"These lyrical and incisive essays cover a wide range of topics related to the human body, including birth, death, race, gender, size, disability, and fertility . . . Marked by the diversity of its contributor’s perspectives and the vibrancy of their prose, this anthology shines." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A stunning collection illuminating the wisdom, love, and power we can access by knowing and caring for our bodies." —Nadia Owusu, author of Aftershocks
"Body Language is a wide-ranging, heart-rending, hope-generating collection of stories. From disordered eating to athleticism to disability, it was impossible to turn away from these intimate and astute offerings. There is nothing more ordinary than living in a body, but so much about it can remain unspoken. This book, then, is a revelation, treasured company that I'll keep with me always." —Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood
"Body Language imagines into the quakes of the body—its pains, shifts, memories, wounds. The collection of voices here is expansive and explosive, insightful and powerful, touching everywhere from funeral sex to breath, football to transitioning, the embodied danger of gender and identity to dancing. A joy to read." —Ingrid Rojas Contreras, author of Fruit of the Drunken Tree
"Body Language explores all that our bodies render possible and impossible: their care and feeding; what is done with them and what is done to them; what bodies may one day become and what they can offer now with each breath. Each essay shines in its specificity. Together, they create a constellation that illuminates the vastness of embodied life and the potential to relate in new ways." —Angela Chen, author of Ace