Michael Kimball

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"Occasionally a novel by a new writer will cause critics to choke with excitement. This is one."

--The Scotsman

"An extraordinary novel"

--The Times Metro

"A bleak, powerful and extraordinary debut"

--The Book Seller


The Girl The Boy


with Marcus Gray
with Paula Grenside

Book cover (small) US The Way the Family Got Away Book Cover The Way the Family Got Away (small)
This is the way the family got away. They pack all the things they can fit into the car and place the body of their dead son in the toy box and put him in the trunk. They leave Mineola, Texas and head across the terrifying, vacant landscape of mid-America to Bompa's house in Michigan. In every place they visit, they sell off what they can to make it to the next town. They keep going to keep the family together.

The Way the Family Got Away (Four Wall Eight Windows; 4th Estate, 2000) is the remarkable story of the journey seen through the eyes of the family's surviving children, a young boy and his younger sister, and of the ways loss makes itself felt through a child's imagination. On the journey, they try to make sense of their brother's death, why they must leave home, and how they get from one place to the next. Through their stories, they relate the miles they gain and the things they lose along the way. The Way the Family Got Away is a moving, unforgettable story.

The Way the Family Got Away is now available as an ebook.

"Kimball's first novel ... is moving and clever: the open road, so long a symbol of freedom and self-discovery in American fiction, is here rendered as denuded of promise, embodying desertion, desolation and rootlessness. ... Kimball's novel reads as parable about the death of the family, of how impossible family life is in a numbedly materialistic society. However, the largeness of the message should not detract from the intricacy of fine, precise storytelling ... he has taken it [American literature] somewhere very dark and unsettling."

--The Times

"Occasionally a novel by a new writer will cause critics to choke with excitement. This is one. ... Kimball resembles a skinhead at a cocktail party—no quarter given to poxy commercialism. For that reason alone, his achievement is admirable. He ignores the media's liason with trends, fame, success, and trivia."

--The Scotsman

"Michael Kimball breathes life into American experimental fiction in this moving debut novel."

--Karen LIllis

John Madera's great descriptive review at The Collagist

"Kimball does have an arresting talent"

--Sunday Tribune

"This searing odyssey is relayed to us by the younger members of the family, who tell their story in uncritical tones, their insistent voices hitting the reader like soft hammers striking a sore place. Kimball has much to say about life, suffering, and family togetherness."

--The Good Book Guide

"Written in the grand tradition of American authors"

--The List (Glasgow and Edinburgh)

"Michael Kimball's debut contains audacious moments ... adding new dimensions to powerful events"

--The Times Metro

"An extraordinary novel"

--The Times Metro

"A touching tale which has moments of rare perception and heart felt sympathy"

--South Wales Evening Post

"A bleak, powerful and extraordinary debut"

--The Book Seller

"All of the loss of life is packed into the cadence of a child's voice in Michael Kimball’s The Way the Family Got Away. ... the real and transient drives The Way along with its cadence, a beaded necklace that breaks and scatters across America. In the end, things are spread to the very corners of earth, where angels hold up the edges. Kimball has created a short novel with long echoes, an epitaph of economics."

--The Stranger

"Set mostly in the back seat of a car ... you can feel the intense heat of the summer sun that sears itself into your memory like a baby raging with fever. The words and the subject matter are stifling, as they force us to look at things we'd rather not see, and occasionally make us want to flee from that back seat and run away as fast as our legs with carry us. ... The feelings inspired by Kimball's first novel are hard to shake, like a continuous, terrifying, fever-induced nightmare."

--City Link

"Kimball is about a new hope that exists in defiance of the lie that crawls through the linear character of the written words, the left, right, down, down toward the back cover. … You can't read if you can't read this book."


The Way the Family Got Away "goes beyond story, pushing the realm of language and voice … to transcend the ordinariness of storytelling."

--Dallas Morning News

"Kimball evinces an undeniable feel for the cadences of children’s speech."

--Publisher’s Weekly

"The children describe in horrifyingly innocent but graphic detail the baby's embalming and eventual cremation, Momma's miscarriage, and the disintegration of their family. ... By the time [the family reaches] Bompa's house, everyone involved, including the reader, is emotionally drained. Kimball pulls off a remarkable feat: by filtering everything through the children's eyes, the reader is kept off balance, never sure what is real and what is a child's interpretation of unfamiliar and frightening events. A difficult, but compelling novel."


"Relentless in its misery ... illustrating the children's attempts to cope with and make some meaning of their massive loss and complete powerlessness"

--Library Journal

"Kimball should be commended"

--Village Voice

"You'll come away thinking you’ve shared time with someone who’ll be on shelves for many years to come."

--RTÉ (Irish Public Broadcasting)