Roxane Gay, an internationally known feminist writer and professor, released a memoir on Tuesday that focused, in part, on what it is like to move through the world as an overweight woman.
So it was both annoying and somewhat fitting, she said, that she has gotten attention this week not only for her work, but also for a podcast that provoked a backlash for suggesting that it was difficult to arrange an interview with Ms. Gay last month because of her weight.
“Will she fit into the office lift?” asked a description of the podcast, which was broadcast on Sunday and hosted by Mia Freedman, creative director of an Australian website called Mamamia. “How many steps will she have to take to get to the interview?”
Ms. Gay, 42, called those words “cruel and humiliating” in a Monday tweet. And in a phone interview on Tuesday, she said she would have preferred to focus on “Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body,” on the date of its publication.
“Really? This is the story?” she said of the conversations surrounding the podcast. “That’s not what I wanted for my book or for myself.”
But she added that the controversies surrounding the podcast had been somewhat illustrative.
“It is helpful, in that I think people get to see, in real time, what fat-phobia looks like and just how careless people can be in considering that fat people deserve dignity,” she said. “So I suppose it’s a useful example of why I wrote the book.”
Following Ms. Gay’s complaint, Mamamia edited both the podcast and the description to remove some of the offending material. The website also issued an apology, calling Ms. Gay “an iconic feminist and one of the most well-respected and powerful voices in feminism.”
Ms. Gay recorded the interview for the podcast last month to promote her memoir. Then, as now, she expressed frustration that Ms. Freedman had discussed steps that were taken to accommodate Ms. Gay.
“Am I supposed to be grateful you provided a sturdy chair?” Ms. Gay wrote on Twitter on May 24. “Why would you tell me this? Is it that arduous? Come on.”
In the edited version of the podcast that was online on Tuesday, Ms. Freedman can be heard introducing Ms. Gay before the interview:
In its apology, Mamamia said that during the interview, Ms. Gay talked about the stress of wondering whether spaces would be accommodating to her size.
“We felt this was an important issue that was integral to understanding Roxane’s point of view in the world and helping people learn about and empathise with a perspective they may never have considered — just as she writes in her book,” the apology said.
But Ms. Gay said she still took issue with the language used by Ms. Freedman. “I’ve been to Australia before. She’s actually seen me before,” she said. “She knows that I’m very capable of entering an elevator, so things like that are just weird and humiliating.”
Emails and a phone call to try to reach Ms. Freedman or other employees at Mamamia, which were made outside of normal business hours in Australia, were not immediately answered.
Ms. Gay has written several columns for The New York Times. “Hunger” is her second book to come out this year; the other was a collection of short stories called “Difficult Women.” Ms. Gay is also well known for the 2014 New York Times best seller “Bad Feminist,” a book of essays.
Her new memoir “takes readers through the physical and emotional realities of her daily life as a woman of size,” said the publisher, Harper, in a news release. In the book, Ms. Gay describes an episode of sexual assault she suffered as a child, and the ways she tried to cope with the trauma.
“I ate and ate and ate in the hopes that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere,” reads an excerpt from the memoir.
During the phone interview on Tuesday, Ms. Gay said: “I want people to be thinking about the book and judging the book on its own merits. I wrote a book about fatness in the world, and I wanted to expand the conversations that we have about different kinds of bodies.”