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Raw, sinuous, high-stakes, Bite Your Friends is a subversive memoir and a mesmerizing history of the body as a site of resistance to power.

In this genre-defying, illuminating book, Eberstadt explores the lives of a handful of outrageously brave men and women—saints, philosophers, artists--who have used their own wounded or stigmatized bodies to challenge society.

The heroes in Bite Your Friends include the ancient Greek Cynic philosopher Diogenes who lived “a dog’s life,” sleeping, teaching, having sex in the public square; Saints Perpetua and Felicitas, two early Christian martyrs; and such twentieth-century prophets of bodily freedom as filmmaker-poet Pier Paolo Pasolini and Michel Foucault. The book features Eberstadt’s own interviews with the Russian punk feminist group Pussy Riot, and the political artist Piotr Pavlensky (who nailed his scrotum to the pavement of Red Square to protest Vladimir Putin’s tyranny).

Running through her narrative of the Body Militant is Eberstadt’s own story and the story of her mother, a New York writer and glamor figure of the 1960s, whose illness-scarred body first led Eberstadt to seek the connections between beauty, belief, and the truths taught by bodily and psychic pain.

From a Roman amphitheater where 4th century martyrs are fed to the wild beasts, to the S&M leather bars of New York in the 1970s, to the waiting zone of Europe’s largest prison, Eberstadt asks crucial questions for our time: what drives certain individuals to risk pain, disgrace, even death, in the name of freedom, and how can we use their example to become braver?

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