October 20, 2022

Article at BostonGlobe.com

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‘Fatty Fatty Boom Boom’ is much more than skin-deep

David Wilson for the Boston Globe

As soon as Rabia Chaudry’s first book, “Adnan’s Story,” was published, her editor and publisher told Chaudry — an attorney, podcaster, and writer — that it was time to think of a new topic. Writing about the case of Adnan Syed, her friend who was then still serving a life sentence for the murder of Hae Min Lee, was “incredibly research-heavy,” Chaudry said.

She turned to the issue she’d been grappling with her whole life: her weight. In “Fatty Fatty Boom Boom: A Memoir of Food, Fat, and Family” (Algonquin), Chaudry begins with her earliest years. As the first child of her parents, who immigrated to the US from Pakistan, she drank from a bottle filled with half-and-half (as her mother had been advised by a friend). For the next several decades, her weight was an overriding issue until she underwent a gastric sleeve procedure in her early 40s.

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Initially, her husband and close friends encouraged her not to write about her surgery. “I thought about the other women who’ve been through this and felt really judged,” Chaudry said. Leaving out the surgery, she added, “would not be fair to that reader. Either I’m going to be completely honest or I’m not going to write this.”

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Although she checked the details of some family stories with relatives, this book was very personal. “Writing this book helped me connect a lot of dots in my life, about eating patterns, about family history around food,” she said. “It almost felt like I had solved a little mystery for myself — my own mystery, about my own body.”

As for the subject of her first book, Chaudry said she is “so happy” that Syed’s conviction was vacated and he has now been freed after spending 23 years incarcerated. “That’s the weight that’s been lifted,” she said.

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Chaudry will read 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Old South Church sanctuary as part of the Boston Book Festival. To learn more, visit bostonbookfest.org.

Kate Tuttle, a freelance writer and critic, can be reached at kate.tuttle@gmail.com.