In Rabia Chaudry’s new memoir, Fatty Fatty Boom Boom: A Memoir of Food, Fat, & Family (Algonquin, Nov. 8), the author delves into her lifelong struggles with weight and her relationship with food, intertwined with her heritage, family life, and relationships. Chaudry moved with her parents to the United States from Lahore, Pakistan, very shortly after the author was born. She recounts being overweight from a very young age, a subject of frequent conversation, ranging from concern to ridicule, among her relatives. Memories of food in rich, sumptuous detail dot her stories, from adolescence and college to her adulthood, and she ably describes the impact of food and dieting on all aspects of her life, including romance, self-worth, family, and more.
In a starred review, a critic for Kirkus said of the book (which includes recipes!): “Whether she’s describing a mad motorcycle mission to score Lahore street food with her overweight uncles, the acquisition of the ‘freshman 25’ with new friends at college, or sharing ice cream in bed with her sweet second husband, Chaudry eloquently portrays the role of food in love and friendship. At the same time, she doesn’t flinch from reporting the humiliations heaped on the overweight at every turn….The literary equivalent of chaat masala fries: heady, sour, and uniquely delicious.” The book made our list of the 100 best nonfiction books of 2022.
Attorney, author, and podcaster Chaudry is well known for her work on the case of Adnan Syed, who was recently exonerated after being wrongfully charged with murder in 1999, as Chaudry explored in her acclaimed 2016 book, Adnan’s Story. She answered our questions via email.
Who is the ideal reader for this book? Where are they reading it?
The ideal reader for this book is someone who enjoys memoirs, is a foodie, loves immigrant stories, ranks My Big Fat Greek Wedding as one of their favorite movies, and/or has struggled with weight and body image issues in their life. They are reading it over a lazy weekend, on the beach or at a mountain retreat, or listening to the audiobook during a road trip!
How did writing this book impact your current relationship with food as well as the memories of food from your past?
Writing this book was a literal mapping of my relationship with food over the near five decades of my life and helped me to connect so many dots between my eating patterns, self-esteem issues, intergenerational trauma, and understanding how and what and why I was eating at different points in my life. It explained so much to me, like assembling a puzzle and finally being able to see the entire picture.
What in-person events for the book are you looking forward to?
Yes, I would love to do in-person events. I am excited for the book launch with Chelsea Clinton, [scheduled for Nov. 8 at the Judson Memorial Church in New York]. I’m also excited for the numerous book festivals I'll be speaking at!
What have been some of your favorite books of 2022?
Better Than We Found It by Frederick and Porsche Joseph; Road of Bones by Christopher Golden; Kismet by Amina Akhtar; Go Back to Where You Came From by Wajahat Ali; and The Old Woman With the Knife by Gu Byeong-Mo.
Nina Palattella is the editorial assistant.