Michael Kimball

“Big Ray is a disgusting man and a great character. He’s dead at the start of the novel, and it’s impossible not to wish him deader. … Mr. Kimball is not one to flinch”
-- The New York Times

Oprah’s Book of the Week

Available from Bloomsbury USA and Bloomsbury Circus (UK)

Big Ray USBig Ray UK


-- Oprah.com

“Distilled, intense … Fear and revulsion mingle with a kind of helpless love.”

-- The Boston Globe

Big Ray is] “astonishingly moving … to mesmerizing effect. … Big Ray is an appalling tale told with anger, dark humor and surprising tenderness.”

-- The Wall Street Journal

“In his novel BIG RAY, Kimball offers a complex and graceful peek at one man’s grieving process: It’s a eulogy, a tribute, an indictment, and a painfully truthful examination of fathers and sons.”

-- Los Angeles Times, Jacket Copy

“Stunning … gripping … fascinating”

-- BBC Radio 4

“Emotional and yet funny”

-- The Baltimore Sun

“This plainspoken novel about a man coming to terms with his abusive father’s death sneaks up on you--and is unlike anything else you’ve read.”

-- Reader’s Digest

“Prepare to be utterly punished"

-- Vice

excerpt of Big Ray @ Vice

“Novels like Michael Kimball’s Big Ray reveal that corpulence has become a go-to metaphor for emotional unrest.”

-- Salon

“Psychologically acute, Michael Kimball’s narrative is … both ingenious and painfully funny, as well as deeply moving.”

-- Daily Mail

“Despite his disturbing material, Kimball manages his narrative with a dark humor, as well as stirring empathy. Big Ray is an ogre, yes but a multi-faceted one -- and most poignantly, a father whose son continues to yearn for his love.”

-- Financial Times

“Paperback of the Week: … in this sparingly written document, which pares back all extraneous detail to get at the emotional core, there’s a striking degree of honesty, which Kimball/Carrier tries to present almost casually as though he weren’t deeply troubled but just thinking things through. It is, above all, a convincing depiction of a man trying to work through conflicting emotions.”

-- The Herald

“It is rare for obesity to be tackled this directly in literature and Kimball is ahead of the pack with this intimate account … Kimball’s delicately layered account of Daniel’s efforts to connect with his dad builds to a whole that is intensely moving.”

-- The Independent

“One of ‘The Ten Best Books of 2012’”

-- L Magazine

MK’s article about the underrepresentation of overweight characters @
Huffington Post

“Dude can write.”


“There aren’t many characters as big as Big Ray in modern fiction.”

-- Los Angeles Review of Books

“Together, the fragments form a surprisingly enthralling portrait of an abusive father … a spellbinding and unflinching meditation on forgiveness, a novel that secures Kimball’s reputation as a literary innovator.”

-- Time Out Chicago

“Michael Kimball has been writing innovative, compelling and beautifully felt books for years, but Big Ray seems a break-through and culmination all at once. It's funny and terrifying and it's his masterpiece, at least so far.”

-- Sam Lipsyte

“An uncompromising work of power and grace. I finished reading it a week ago, but I still can't put it down."

-- Jon McGregor

Big Ray is like hearing a close friend processing some serious loss. Michael Kimball does emotional immediacy better than any writer alive, I shit you not.”


MK and Brad Listi talk about polar bears, the ocean, eating a burrito, and a fear of finishing @
Other People.

"The book reads like a memoir, the entirely believable product of a son grappling with the death and life of his father. The narrator talks frankly of his estrangement and efforts to connect, the abuse he suffered and his mixed feelings; the obituary, he notes, listed those who preceded Ray in death and those who survived him. 'I’m one of the people who survived.'”

-- Publisher’s Weekly

Big Ray is a great novel, a small books that happens to be about the idea of bigness. … Measured sentences come one after another, like ticking time bombs. … Kimball’s prose is so luminously clear that each new paragraph seems like another piece of evidence in the case for and against Big Ray. … I finished it feeling shaken. In this small book Kimball has captured the terrible contradictions of life as it’s lived.”

-- The Brooklyn Rail

From an interview @
Vice: “Somehow [Big Ray] manages to be simultaneously Kimball’s most brutal and heartfelt and blackly hilarious book yet.”

“Michael Kimball’s Big Ray is a powerfully intimate and sorrowful work, a novel that will forever mark your consciousness with its indelible and heartfelt beauty."

-- Largehearted Boy

MK talks about obesity in fiction on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book.

From an interview @
The Nervous Breakdown: “Big Ray is Michael’s … most intimate and moving … You “can’t help but be somewhat changed after reading this book

From an interview @ Charlotte Viewpoint: “This deeply affecting novel”

“Hinged on the border between love and hate, between redemption and condemnation, Big Ray is a tremendously beautiful novel that tackles death and obesity and child abuse and forgiveness from a strikingly new perspective. … an enormously powerful examination of truth and love and cowardice and courage between a father and a son.”

-- The Nervous Breakdown

“Big Ray has an honesty and a forthrightness of approach … which serve to establish … an intense and personal connection, like I feel in the best nonfiction. But this isn’t nonfiction. The ambition on display in Kimball’s book is pretty clearly novelistic. His subjects are big ones.”

-- Kenyon Review

“Michael Kimball gained a devoted following with three brilliant novels (
Us, Dear Everybody, and The Way the Family Got Away), all of which deal honestly and unconventionally with loss. His latest work, Big Ray, is his most powerful: A propulsive first-person narrative by a man mourning his abusive and obese (over 500 pounds) father’s death.

-- The Center for Fiction

Big Ray is a lovely, very melancholy book, and one that leaves an imprint in the mind just like Big Ray’s on that armchair [on the cover]. ”

-- Big Other

“In the novel
Big Ray, Michael Kimball uses the phrase ‘my father’ over eight hundred times. … “Michael Kimball uses that phrase so many times it begins to weigh on you … The father is unbearable.”

-- Artichoke Haircut

“Both humorous and heartbreaking, it has gained a permanent place on my bookshelf. … It’s a book to return to again and again … for life.”

-- Bookseller

Big Ray] “packs the emotional charge of a lifetime.”

-- Booklist

Big Ray is a novel that has the feel and authenticity of a memoir.”

-- Detroit Metro Times

“The compelling nature of the character is never in doubt. Big Ray crashes through the 182 pages of this slim volume, pushing everything else to the side to make way for his bulk. One week later, this reviewer was still having nightmares about him.”

-- Little Patuxent Review

“Kimball’s story takes on something of a redemptive, Job-like intensity. … It is a well-told story that is not easy to forget.”

-- Shelf Awareness

“elegantly straightforward”

-- Library Journal

“The most impressive feat of Kimball is his ability to do two things at once, all the time … funny and sad … hateful and reassuring.”


Big Ray, Kimball writes “with a previously untapped range of emotion and intimacy."

-- Baltimore Fishbowl

“Big Ray
’s power is unquestionable.”

-- KGB Bar Lit Magazine

“When I finished
Big Ray, I was thankful for the dad I have. … Be prepared to have your heart broken. You will love every second of it.”

-- Girls Just Reading

”Overwhelming … In Big Ray, Michael Kimball has accomplished something astonish. In seeking to explain how love and hate can exist at once, he’s given us the experience of loving and hating. … You’ll both love and hate him for it.”

-- The Coffin Factory

“Fall head over heels for Michael Kimball’s Big Ray."

-- The Next Best Book Club


-- Full Stop

Big Ray is "part eulogy, part psychological retaliation, and an entirely devastating whole."

-- Urbanite

Big Ray: Best Cover of the Month @ Vice

“Big Ray, the man, made an indelible human impression on me. Big Ray, Michael Kimball's terrific new novel, is genuinely moving because it is so rigorously unsentimental. Kimball is a powerful and courageous writer.”

-- Dana Spiotta

Big Ray is disturbing in the most extraordinary ways, and in the end extraordinarily touching also. There’s nothing quite like it I’ve ever read till now (though there were times I thought the ghost of Barry Hannah was whispering in my ear.) It’s amazing.”

Madison Smartt Bell

“Elegy, meditation, story, final reckoning—whatever you want to call it,
Big Ray is mesmerizing. Sorrowful and honest, the kind of book that compels, not compromises...”

Deb Olin Unferth

Big Ray is stunning, haunting, and beautiful. This groundbreaking and unforgettable novel should not be missed.”

-- Jessica Anya Blau