Author Interview: Melissa Broder

Milk Fed is a scathingly funny, wildly erotic, and fiercely imaginative story about food, sex, and god from the acclaimed author of The Pisces and So Sad Today. We spoke with author Melissa Broder about the inspiration for Milk Fed, the author whose audiobooks she’s loving this year, and more!

“Titillating and hilarious, this book is Broder’s crowning achievement (so far). Calorie-obsessed Rachel is an unlikely but irresistible heroine, and when she meets Miriam at the yogurt shop, sparks (and sprinkles!) fly. Each must reckon with her Jewish identity as well as her heart’s deepest, lushest desires, while the intense scrutiny of the mother figure looms large. This story is unflinchingly honest, unexpectedly moving, and a brilliant checkmate to shame, both carnal and spiritual. I couldn’t put it down.”

Kristen, Thank You Books

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

I’ve always wanted to tell the story of a love affair between a woman with a restrictive eating disorder and a voluptuous woman who is very comfortable with her own appetites. In college, I wrote a short story version that flopped. Many years later, I began to think about the interconnected nature of appetites—physical hunger, sexual desire, spiritual yearning, and familial longing—and the way that we as humans are encouraged to compartmentalize these interdependent instincts. I also considered the ways that eating disorders can function as a monotheistic religion of sorts: a way of compartmentalizing existential anxiety, finding comfort in a system, and feeling like you have some control in an otherwise random world.

I realized that if I was going to tell this story, I wanted to include a spiritual component. To me, food and the Judaism of my upbringing are inextricable. So it was perfect.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

I got to pick out the intro and outro music. I had fun going through all of the licensed little clips—horror, motivational—trying to find something klezmer-ish.

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

I’m an avid audiobook listener. I like when authors read their own work, like Motherhood read by Sheila Heti. Last year, I went through a deep Edith Wharton audiobook phase. This year, it’s John Steinbeck.

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

As a teen, I hid out in bookstores. Now, when I walk into a bookstore and see my books on a table or shelf, it makes me feel so real. That’s the best way I can explain it: like a real writer. It’s a deep thrill. My younger self is always excited.

Header photo by Petra Collins

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