Alumna Novelist Ethel Rohan Depicts Battle with Food Obsession in The Weight of Him

Oakland, CA–February 20, 2017

In her new novel, The Weight of Him, Mills College alumna Ethel Rohan explores whether a food-obsessed, grieving protagonist can turn the corner and “do something amazing.”

The story takes place in a small Irish town where an obese father struggles to overcome his son’s death by losing half his weight while leading a public awareness campaign about suicide. The contradiction of impulsiveness and determination are central to his character.

“There’s a lot of talk in fiction about the importance of having likeable characters,” says Rohan. “That doesn’t interest me. It’s not real. I’m much more interested in flawed characters, seeing the trouble they get into, watching them struggle to get out. It feels more human, and it’s more satisfying to reach the end, regardless of the outcome. We all see ourselves, to some degree, in imperfection.”

This is Rohan’s first novel. She is also the author of two short-story collections.

Rohan received a BA in English from Mills in 2002 and an MFA in writing in 2004.