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'It's unclear precisely when it became illegal to be fat.

Of course, technically, it's not, even in this day and age. Even with the blatant persecution of tubbies, there's no official legislation on any statute book that comes right out and says fatness is against the law.

But it is.'

Rob Grant's new novel is both an hilarious satire on our readiness to devour 'facts' and dodgy science along with our doughnuts and an unexpectedly moving story of the true cost of our obsession with how we look.

329 pages, Paperback

First published December 1, 2006

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About the author

Rob Grant

16 books145 followers

Writes under the name Grant Naylor when collaborating with Doug Naylor

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5 stars
198 (21%)
4 stars
331 (36%)
3 stars
287 (31%)
2 stars
73 (8%)
1 star
23 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 78 reviews
Profile Image for Baba.
3,503 reviews725 followers
April 27, 2020
An entertaining comedy about three people who cross paths with each other a few times over a year. A clinically obese TV chef with a short fuse and a penchant for calamity; an up and coming PR man tasked with branding the imminent launch of an initiative for obese people, called Well Farms; and a teenage girl obsessed with her weight and constantly starving herself. Grant manages to make me laugh countless times whilst raising some really thought provoking issues centred around obesity, modern medicine and celebrity. 7 out of 12.
Profile Image for KimStitch.
170 reviews7 followers
July 5, 2015
I’m sorry to have to say it, but I ate this novel up. It follows the story of one girl with anorexia, one overweight, anger-driven chef and one publicity spinner in charge of making a Well Farm (fat-nazi camp), skipping to each one each chapter, and mixing up the narratives by the end. It is really excellent, a study of how being “fat” is now illegal. The book starts by talking about the fat tax that planes are charging people based on their BMI, to account for the extra fuel needed to carry extra-sized people around.
Profile Image for Grace.
387 reviews16 followers
May 12, 2016
Not what I expected.
I expected a tale of the dystopian future where being fat was illegal, which is what was described on the front.

It was not that. It is the tale of three different people, in a changing world where being fat is becoming more frowned upon. While well written and at times very funny, it was not what I wanted and took me a long time to read because of this fact.

Oh well!
Profile Image for Jonathan-David Jackson.
Author 7 books30 followers
July 7, 2014
The blurb on the back of the book implies that it's set in a near-future dystopian society where fat is soon to be illegal. The book teases you early on with the mention of Well Farms, which are (voluntary) camps for fat people to be thinned down, and I'm sure you can imagine the slippery dystopian slope that could slide down. Instead, what the book gives you is three characters who exist in a world which is exactly like the world we actually live in, and nothing different happens.

The writing is light and enjoyable to read, and I did feel interested in what's going on with each character. None of them get a satisfying ending, but none of them were likable to begin with so you don't feel too cheated. It was enough to keep me going to the end, and enough to earn 3 stars.
Profile Image for F.
294 reviews246 followers
September 8, 2016
Was a good read. Enjoyed the 3 stories. Was easy to relate to the characters and their problems. Wish the stories entwined more.
Profile Image for Iva Jar.
1,309 reviews33 followers
May 3, 2020
Tlouštíkovy patálie byly pro mě vážně vtipné, zato sonda do hlubin anorektiččiny duše mi připadá spíš děsivá. Mělo to být asi taky vtipné, ale pro mě to bylo hodně depresivní čtení. Asi proto, že jsem znala jednu anorektičku, která zemřela dost mladá... A zdá se mi, že to její myšlení je popsáno bohužel dost realisticky, není to sranda.
Profile Image for Vicki.
76 reviews13 followers
September 15, 2015
This book fundamentally lacked direction. I think what it should have been was a tongue-in-cheek (but also a little bit thoughtful) look at the place of overweight people in society today and some of the crazy things we do, as individuals and as a society, to tackle our nation's ever growing girth.

What it actually was was not-very-funny, but not serious enough to come across as having 'a message'.

There are 3 main characters (one chapter on each character and repeat) who don't meet or cross paths until the last quarter of the book, and even then, not much. I was wondering by about half way if there was any point in changing character for each chapter, as it could have just been written as 3 separate short stories.

On top of this, none of the characters were particularly likeable (as in, you know there are some 'bad' characters you can still get behind? like tragic villains etc.? well these weren't like that).

One guy has anger management issues (in part brought on by being really overweight), but he comes off as a grumpy bastard rather than a darkly amusing character. The next guy is a status-obsessed womaniser who is in charge of PR for a 'Fat Farm' campaign. His life isn't overly affected by weight even though its his job to make the fat farms look good, but that's not really gone into all that much. The third character is an anorexic teen girl, who my opinion on kept seesawing from pity/sadness to 'oh my god why are you being such a selfish bitch, can't you see everyone is just trying to help you?'.

In three words: not exactly funny.

Mr Grant, please go back to writing quirky sci-fi novels instead.
30 reviews1 follower
July 10, 2009
A hilarious but also a moving and thought provoking novel about the issue of fat.

The characters are interesting, Hayleigh, the sad anorexic teenager, Jeremy, the self obsessed conceptuologist (PR man), Jemma the down to earth researcher and my favourite, Grenville, the overweight celebrity chef.

It's a book that could offend with the use of some bad language and sexual content. Some parts of the book covering Hayleigh's anorexia bring tears to your eyes. However some sections are hysterically funny. The funniest for me was Grenville's attempts to leave the health club car park and the utter fiasco that followed. I was crying with laughter, most embarrassing sitting on a sunbed beside a quiet swimming pool.

The book covers the media's and our own obsession with how we look, exercise, the cost of being fat for us and the nation, the cholesterol theory, the salt myth, anorexia and much more in an unusual way. The facts are woven into the story so that it's never boring. I bought this book as holiday reading intending to leave at the hotel for their library. I didn't, I brought it back to research the issues raised.
Profile Image for Katherine Roberts.
Author 44 books133 followers
September 10, 2015
This book is part fiction, part fact, and funny too! Loosely weaving together the stories of overweight TV chef Grenville, fitness fanatic PR guy Jeremy and anorexic teenager Hayleigh, it tells a tale that is all too believable.

Jeremy is employed by the Government to put a positive spin on their new obesity camps, which sound like a cross between an open prison and a fitness training camp. When Grenville goes on a rampage in the gym carpark, he ends up being offered a place in the camp as a guinea pig. Meanwhile, young Hayleigh finds herself in hospital, where only Jeremy can help her. I couldn't help laughing at the characters, even the tragic Hayleigh, while cringing inwardly in several places. And if some of those facts are true, I'll never believe official medical guidelines for things like cholesterol levels again...
Profile Image for WaterstonesBirmingham.
220 reviews39 followers
May 12, 2016
This was not what I expected!
I was prepared for a tale of a dystopian future where being fat is illegal, whereas this is more of a lead up story.

It was enjoyable, well written and bitingly funny at times. While not what I had expected when I picked it up, it was still very enjoyable.

Profile Image for JK.
875 reviews48 followers
August 9, 2019
Fat begins with the sentence “It’s unclear precisely when it became illegal to be fat”, which leads us to imagine a dystopian future where this is the case. Although this would be an excellent premise for a novel, Grant doesn’t follow up with this, and instead drops us into the lives of three people for whom being fat may as well be illegal.

We meet Grenville, an overweight TV chef with anger issues, Hayleigh, a teenager with a severe eating disorder, and Jeremy, the newly appointed PR man in charge of promoting the government's new weight-loss camps. Grant’s use of multiple-voice narrative is effective in displaying the stark contrasts between each of three, and how weight rules over their lives.

I found this very well-written, nicely light, and absolutely hilarious. Grenville’s furious rampages, Hayleigh’s teenage rants, and Jeremy’s fuckboy attitudes, all resonated well and completely tickled me. Although there isn’t a great deal of depth to any of them, Grant has constructed these characters well enough to allow us to relate to them.

He knows when to make his serious points, and when to utilise humour in a novel which could have been problematic if handled in the wrong way. It’s very tongue in cheek, but Grant makes some thought-provoking points on the subject of weight, the nation’s obsession with it, and covers some interesting myths on the types of things we put into our bodies.

This was a perfect book to eject me from the reading slump I’d found myself in - nothing too taxing, a little bit of hilarity, and something to turn the old brain cogs. Wonderful.
Profile Image for Guy Haley.
Author 213 books501 followers
November 26, 2015
In a world where the number of obese people has, for the first time, overtopped the malnourished, Fat is a timely novel. In looking at fatness from several different angles (he’d have to, it’s a big subject), Rob Grant has written a book that is thought-provoking, moving and hilarious.

The book is split into three parallel stories. Angry TV chef Grenville Roberts takes centre stage in the first strand. A man whose girth is outweighed only by his prodigious temper, Roberts is trying his best to lose some weight, because that’s what the producers of his TV show want, however, in true Grant style, his would-be easy ride is upset by a legion of petty-minded jobsworths, and all before breakfast. The second strand features Jeremy Slank, PR genius, tasked with promoting New Labour’s latest attempt to tackle Britain’s paunch. The third concerns Hayleigh, a teenage anorexic. All very different, but the book works because each strand complements the others, like the layers of a particularly fine cake.

Grenville’s tale is typical Grant, sharp observations about being a larger man in a world populated entirely by idiots, as the not entirely blameless chef blusters his way from one ludicrous situation to the next. Jeremy’s tale bears witness to Grant’s skill with satirical comedy – Fat Farms are just precisely the kind of thing that the government would think up, and he weaves the over-awed Jeremy’s meetings with the nation’s powers-that-be successfully with his desperate attempts to get into scientist Jemma’s pants, a woman who serves dual roles as love interest and vehicle for conveying the shocking revelations that Grant uncovered during research. Okay, maybe they’re not so shocking – he’s saying science is presented to us in a shamelessly skewed manner, and that the high art of Cartesian methodology has gone for a Burton, but he does furnish us with intriguing examples that will make you want to know more – it’s like the Mark Thomas Comedy Product without the bile.

It is in Hayleigh’s story, however, that Grant reveals his authorial abilities. His characterisation is so spot on you’d think you were reading a teenage girl’s diary (er, not that that’s what SFX reviewers get up to…). This section is marvellously well-executed, acting as a magic-mirror reflection to Grenville’s story. Being fat might be deleterious to one’s health, but it’s not as bad as starving yourself to death because you’re overwhelmed by unrealistic media images. And though the government in the book are leaping at the throats of the fatties, the far greater tragedy of anorexia receives nary a thought – as in reality. The news has been full of the reprimanding of the large recently, but there have no real attempts to stop idiot fashion designers using women who don’t look like they’re going to expire if they are not coerced to eat a couple of pies.

Grant’s made a leap forward as an author here, this is a more assured book than his last, Incompetence which was perhaps too ridiculous in pointing out the ridiculous. Fat gets the tone bang on. But, on a final note, Fat is barely SF, in fact, if another author had written it, it would not be called so. It’s even less SF oriented than Incompetence, and is closer to the works of Tom Sharpe than Terry Pratchett. But do not begrudge Grant his fun in the here and now – he has found just as many large, slow-moving targets in the real of today as he ever did in future of Red Dwarf.
Profile Image for John Kirk.
394 reviews13 followers
April 25, 2012
Unlike Rob Grant's previous SF stories, this one is set "5 minutes into the future". When I first read it in 2007, it seemed like something that could plausibly happen within the next couple of years. Reading it again in 2012, it still seems like something that could happen soon, although a few of the references are now a bit dated (particularly the ones relating to celebrities).

There are three main characters, who are all quite distinct. They tend to have similar "speech patterns" for their internal monologue, but that's justifiable if it's being filtered through an omniscient narrator. Looking at the supporting cast, the most prominent person is Jemma (a research assistant) but she's not much of a character; she just provides a way for the author to insert large chunks of exposition into the plot. Her comments are interesting: I don't agree with all of them, but I'm willing to find out more about them.

Personally, I agree with the concept that you can lose weight by eating less and doing more exercise; at the very least, that applies to me. However, I also think that the way the "Well camps" were set up in this book was wrong, particularly when they talked about withdrawing benefits for people who refused to attend.

Profile Image for Soňa.
698 reviews46 followers
December 4, 2017
Toto dielko sa snaží byť iné ako Červený Trpaslík a aj mu to ide. A to aj bez spoluautorstva.
O čom je útla kniha do 300 strán? Vlastne len o 3 ľuďoch - šéfkuchár Grenville, konceptuolog Jeremy a tínedžerka Hayleigh....v reálnom svete nemajú nič spoločné a v tomto príbehu sa ich línie pretnú len raz. Tak prečo? Pretože každý z nich rieši jedlo, kým Gren je obézny kuchár, ktorý chce schudnúť, Jeremy vytvára PR (áno to je jednoduchšie vysvetlenie) pre vládou podporený program Fit Fariem, Hayleigh, je anorektička, ktorá to dotiahla až do nemocnice po úraze z vyčerpania.

Kým Gren rieši problémy hnevom a trieskaním, tak za ním vidieť snahu človeka pochopiť prečo sa dostal do tohto stavu i jeho neschopnosť sa z neho dostať. A verím tomu, že mnohé myšlienky, ktoré mu behajú v hlave poznajú asi všetci, ktorí sa možno len raz za čas objedia.

Jeremy je síce namyslený 'spratek', ktorý vďaka náhode k šťastiu a sláve prisiel, nám nakoniec ukáže že občas aj kravata môže mať viac citu ako rádoby populárny spevák a idol mladých.

No a Hayleigh... asi najtragickejšia postava. Sledovať jej pokusy o chudnutie až bolia. Kočka zjavne vie čo chce a ide za tým aj takmer cez vlastnú mŕtvolu.... Našťastie onen idol jej srdca vlastne nie je až taký ideálny a dievča pochopí aspoň niektoré veci. Aj keď obrátenie na vieru to na 100% nie je, ale je to úspech. A ja jej vlastne v závere držím palce, že to zvládla.

Celkovo kniha vyzerá ako takmer vtip na serióznu tému, ale v skutočnosti je to seriózna téma podaná s odľahčením a aj kúsom vtipu. Kvitujem, že na veci sa autor nepozerá ani cez ružové okuliare a ani servítku pred ústa si nedáva, je to proste tak ako to je.
Profile Image for Dane Cobain.
Author 19 books301 followers
September 20, 2014
Rob Grant is the co-creator of Red Dwarf, one of my favourite television shows ever, and so theoretically his novel should score highly. The concept is pretty cool, too – imagine a society in which it’s a crime to be fat, in which the fat are persecuted in a way that’s vaguely reminiscent of the Nazi purges in the 1940s. That’s pretty much all you need to know about the novel, to be honest.

The sad fact is that I just didn’t find it interesting – the characters failed to hook me, and there was a sort of lethargy to the writing that seemed to suggest that the author’s best days were behind him, or that he was writing for the sake of writing instead of because he had a great story to tell. It’s a shame, because the concept is pretty cool and I was expecting the execution to be top notch – here, however, Grant failed to deliver.

If you’re a die-hard fan of Red Dwarf or of Rob Grant’s other work then it’s worth giving this a read, but if you’ve never heard of him before then you might as well read something else, something written by an author with a bit more spunk and flair.

Understand that none of this is meant to be a slight against Rob Grant – I have huge respect for the guy, and my copy is even signed by him, although I’ve never actually met him. I guess he’s an example of one of the many writers who can be hit and miss, and this particular novel is one of those misses. I’ll still probably buy his next one to see whether he’s back on form.
Profile Image for Jason.
30 reviews
August 9, 2011
The blurb for this book is a little misleading. In Incompetence, Rob Grant built an entire world around one hilarious premis and used it to frustrate his character at every turn, while his inadequacy (a well-explored Grant character trait) was secondary. What Grant has created in Fat is a very serious, though humorous, look at image and the way his 3 main characters deal with it. One character actually creates image, another would be happy if not for the way the world sees him, and the last does everything in her power to lose weight. What's funny about this book are Grant's acid and silly observations of the world according to fat people. It is not, as suggested in the blurb, about rounding up fat people and sending them to concentration camps (that was just the last 4 chapters). I can't figure out if this book suffers because it tries to be both funny and serious across 3 mostly unconnected narratives, or if being humorous was the best way for Grant to get his message across. Hard for me to put down and still worth a read.
4 reviews
September 2, 2014
'Well, here's a tip. When somebody does something you don't like, and then tells you they did it in your own best interest: run. Run, my friend, till you drop. And don't look back'

Okay, so this isn't always going to be true, but when corporations and governments tell you what is best (in spite of the scientific evidence), then it is probably sound advice.

Rob Grant's Fat is a satirical take on our obsession with beauty and health fads, and the way that PR companies and governments use that to manipulate people. Fat is a witty, entertaining and thought-provoking warning to us all. At the same time, it highlights issues like anorexia, and how our society's obsessions can adversely affect us as individuals.

Fat follows three protagonists, Grenville, Jeremy, and Hayleigh, whose lives intersect at various points, and Grant writing nails the narrative voice for each of the characters' stories.

While it is an enjoyable read, the ending seems anti-climactic and I would recommend Grant's other books over this one.
Profile Image for Bee.
93 reviews1 follower
February 18, 2015
This was an absolute hooter to read! I cracked up at every Grenville chapter, his exploits were by far the funniest.
Rob Grant does a fantastic job of getting the reader inside the heads of his characters and after the introductory chapters, you really start to feel what they feel.
Hayleigh's motivation for not eating and Grenville's rampaging were totally relatable for me, but Jeremy's story seemed more exposition than anything, though by the end I did start to warm up to him.
As for the story itself, I felt a little let down because it felt like nothing much happened, yet since it was still thoroughly enjoyable I didn't much care. The three central characters kept you interested throughout and without spoiling anything, I did find myself flicking back to the beginning of the book after a certain detail was revealed in the closing chapters, so in my opinion Rob Grant did a great job of pulling you into the narrative.
Recommended for anyone who wants a good laugh.
Profile Image for Kate.
124 reviews10 followers
September 22, 2010
A whole lot of infodumpin' goin' on in this one. That said, the narrative was well-constructed and I did find myself caring about the characters, especially Grenville and Hayleigh - it was much harder to get involved with Jeremy and Jemma, as they were mostly there simply as story framing devices and to get across all those infodumps about salt, cholesterol, fat, etc.

The infodumps were, at least, highly valuable in terms of combatting the common perceptions of health and wellness as presented by the media, the government, and the diet/pharmaceutical industries - which was the entire point. I would've liked to hear more about the myth that fat people can't be fit, though...it was hinted at with Grenville's first assessment at the fitness club, but never delved into. And, frankly, if you're going to weave fiction with agenda-based nonfiction infodumps, you might as well go all the way.
Profile Image for Fox.
27 reviews11 followers
November 10, 2013
The themes (obesity and bmi myths/eating disorders and the experience of being obese) were of interest to me and ultimately made me stick with it but it fell pretty flat. The characters were very obnoxious caricatures with barely interwoven stories. The plot was meandering and aimless with a terrible ending.

The writing was decent and the chapters short so I ended up continuing to read out of mild curiosity and half-hating myself for it.

Accurately reported some of the experiences of eating disorders and obesity in parts but still wound up being cheesy. Touched on both funny and serious at times but didn't fully manage either.

I did appreciate Jemma's sections challenging the science of obesity, but I felt like the rest of the book was mostly a large poorly constructed vessel for these ideas. Could have succeeded a lot better at what it was trying to do.
34 reviews2 followers
June 21, 2011
Very amusing, simple structure of some people involved in issues around fatness.
The book follows the lives of three somewhat unusual individuals over a period spanning a few days, in which their stories eventually interact to varying extents. They are A divorced TV chef who tends to slip into a rage should anybody mention his weight, a teenage girl who becomes anorexic and has to go to hospital and have psychiatry treatments, and a "Conceptuologist" (politically correct term for PR man) who the British prime minister hires to promote health farms and possibly rebrand the NHS.
Highly recommended light read, British context.
Profile Image for Emma Jackson.
425 reviews6 followers
June 26, 2014
I knew this book would be funny as it's written by one of the guys who wrote/created Red Dwarf. I thought the satire was incredibly clever, it was both hilarious but scarily accurate in summing up how obesity is portrayed in the media. It follows three different people and skips back and forth between their stories. I usually hate this tactic in books because although it does create cliffhangers and makes you want to keep reading there's also invariably one story you enjoy more than the others and I gnash my teeth when I have to wait a couple of chapters to hear more about what's going on. In this book all three stories kept my interest which made for a book I didn't want to put down.
Profile Image for Mevsbroccoli.
3 reviews1 follower
September 20, 2012
A quick, funny little read.
I especially enjoyed the Grenville bits (YEEEY, Go Gren!!!!!). The big guy really does kick ass, both literally AND figuratively^^.
The science rants were waay over the top, which made the all the more fun to read. There was also some quite interesting stuff,so in the end I felt compelled to maybe do some more research.
And while the whole anorexic teenage drama normally isn't my thing, I feel Haleigh's story balanced the whole
thing out nicely.
So all in all an enjoyable reading experience.XD
Profile Image for Mariam.
12 reviews
October 8, 2012
It's hard to say why I like this book so much. It's a simple premise and very true to modern life... something that normally doesn't appeal to me. It might be the angry fat chef and his 'rampages' or the girl who has to work so hard to keep up her avoidance of all things calorific. It certainly isn't the third character, a bachelor with no winning qualities. However, by the end, even he had grown on me.

It's an almost-dystopian book set in this age. You don't see many of those.

The writing is good but not remarkable.

But I stand by my rating. A must-read on my shelf.
Profile Image for Tabs.
4 reviews1 follower
October 5, 2014
I really enjoyed the roller coaster of emotions that this brought as well as the twisted humour. The depth of character was amazing and I loved the character flaws of the indivduals, I was rooting for the suet pie too! That being said there were a number of chapters that had me flinching in my seat and this were mainly connected with Hayleigh's portions of the book that made me uncomfortable but yet again in the thought provoking and right way. FAT a book for everyone... just how many calories are there in one page?
Profile Image for Ellie Barnes.
4 reviews1 follower
April 5, 2016
I found this a really amusing read that I finished in a couple of sittings. The researcher is an obvious plot device for telling Jeremy the PR man about the other side to the fat situation. It might have been better if Jeremy could have found some of these things out for himself rather than just listening to someone tell him. That aside, this was a thoroughly enjoyable book that kept me amused for the duration. I would say it's significantly different from Rob Grant's previous book, Incompetance.
Profile Image for Zhao Yi.
22 reviews
August 15, 2008
Generally I liked it, both as a sardonic tale of society's obsession with obesity. I hated that Jemma and Jeremy got together in the end, because he's precisely the kind of person I loathe with all my being - in spite of his gradual turn-around.

However, I remain skeptical of a couple of the ideas - specifically about smoking (and whether or not it's unhealthy) and cholesterol. The rest of the stuff, about being fat and the arbitrary nature of the BMI, is spot on.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ria Moir.
5 reviews
April 27, 2013
I really enjoyed this book. I felt I really connected with Hayley and I found Grenville hilarious. In a society that is fixated on size I found this really relevant to how I'm sure we've all felt at some point in our lives. But life is so short and it's for living, and I'm so glad all the characters realise this in the end. Some very funny descriptions, as I've come to expect from Rob Grant, being a big fan of Red Dwarf. Couldn't put it down.
Profile Image for Edward Davies.
Author 3 books35 followers
April 30, 2015
This is a great little page turner from one of the co-creators of Red Dwarf, filled with colourful characters that the reader will soon grow to love. In spite of all their faults, the characters are appealing and make us as readers want to find out what will happen to them as we become ebgaged by their life stories. Hopefully Rob Grant will have another novel out soon, they are a little few and far between.
Profile Image for Sanity Assasin.
62 reviews2 followers
March 29, 2008
a very humourous and informative look by rob grant (writer of red dwarf) on the subject of fat and what we know about it. it follows 3 characters on their own personal journeys through the world of fat! at times it had me laughing out loud. anything by rob grant is usually worth the read and this is no different! read it fuckers!
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