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Who is Marya Hornbacher?

Niki Acker
Updated May 23, 2024
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Marya Hornbacher is an American novelist and memoir writer. Her debut book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia (1998), was highly acclaimed and groundbreaking in its honest account of the day-to-day horrors of living with an eating disorder. It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and has sold over a million copies in the U.S. alone. In 2005, Marya Hornbacher published her first novel, The Center of Winter, about a family dealing with the suicide of the father. Written from the point of view of three very different but equally compelling characters, Hornbacher's novel was also well received by critics and readers alike.

Marya Hornbacher was born on 4 April 1974 in Walnut Creek, California, but she grew up in Minnesota, where The Center of Winter is set. Her parents worked in the theatre as actors and directors. In Wasted, Hornbacher recounts that her struggle with poor body image began at the age of five, and that she was bulimic by the age of nine and anorexic at 13. She also developed problems with drugs, alcohol, and other forms of delinquency at a very young age. Hornbacher spent her youth in and out of hospitals, and was finally given a week to live after reaching a low of 52 pounds while attending American University in Washington, D. C.

Luckily, Hornbacher survived and began working towards recovery. She wrote Wasted at the age of 21, blowing critics away with her commanding narrative voice, brutal honesty, and insight despite her young age. Her memoir is intense and frightening in its depiction of eating disorders, but also offers hope through her own steps towards recovery. Hornbacher also maintains a website at www.hornbacher.com where readers can discuss her books, post their own work, and talk with Marya Hornbacher and each other about recovery or any other topics that arise.

Hornbacher continued to struggle with her eating disorder and other self destructive behavior after the publication of Wasted, and she broke up with her first husband due to alcohol and drug abuse problems. She has been sober since 2001. She married again, to a fellow recovered addict.

Hornbacher currently lives in Minnesota and focuses on her writing. Her next planned work is a memoir covering the period after that discussed in Wasted, but she also plans to write more fiction. Hornbacher is also an award-winning journalist and a creative writing teacher for adults.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a PublicPeople editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "
Discussion Comments
By anon79595 — On Apr 23, 2010

So glad she made it to 36! Thank you!

By anon12192 — On May 01, 2008

I have known Marya for years-her second husband Jeff and she have stayed together and are doing well, working through their respective issues. They have, as she would say, "a remarkable relationship" that is equipped to deal with anything that comes up.

Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a PublicPeople editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of...
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