Cockroach

Overview

Praise for Cockroach:

?[A] dark and uncompromising vision. [Cockroach] offers a version of an ?migr? underground which is original, raw and brave.??Colm Toibin

?A dark Dostoevskian fable, which lowers the reader into the sewers of immigrant Montreal to confront an underground world teeming with sex, crime and greedy insectoid life.??Hari Kunzru

?Searing, affecting, misanthropic.??Mohsin Hamid

?Most fiction writers are primarily either stylists or plotters, but Hage is clearly ...

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Cockroach: A Novel

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Overview

Praise for Cockroach:

“[A] dark and uncompromising vision. [Cockroach] offers a version of an émigré underground which is original, raw and brave.”—Colm Toibin

“A dark Dostoevskian fable, which lowers the reader into the sewers of immigrant Montreal to confront an underground world teeming with sex, crime and greedy insectoid life.”—Hari Kunzru

“Searing, affecting, misanthropic.”—Mohsin Hamid

“Most fiction writers are primarily either stylists or plotters, but Hage is clearly both. There’s a slight jolting sensation as the narrative shifts gear from poetic to cinematic, with guns and knives and elaborately contrived set-ups replacing the earlier evocations of drains and flesh and wintry streets, but it’s all managed with great brio and expertise.”—James Lasdun, The Guardian

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
Evoking both Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground and Kafka’s Metamorphosis, this magic-realist novel set in modern times brings to light, out of the darkness of a Canadian winter, the war-torn and violent past of its characters.... readers will be fascinated both by the inner lives of the troubled characters and by the textured portrait of Montreal’s immigrant community.— Heather Paulson
Heather Paulson - Booklist
“Evoking both Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground and Kafka’s Metamorphosis, this magic-realist novel set in modern times brings to light, out of the darkness of a Canadian winter, the war-torn and violent past of its characters.... readers will be fascinated both by the inner lives of the troubled characters and by the textured portrait of Montreal’s immigrant community.”
Publishers Weekly
With a surprising degree of humor, Hage's second novel (after IMPAC Dublin-winner DeNiro's Game) explores the peculiar politics of Montreal's immigrant communities through the bleak obsessions of a misanthropic thief. After trying and failing to kill himself, an unnamed narrator who believes himself to be part cockroach is compelled to attend counseling sessions with an earnest and alluring therapist. As he unspools his personal history—from his apprenticeship with the thief Abou-Roro to the tragic miscalculation that led him to flee his home country—the narrator, reluctant to tell his story (we never learn where the narrator is from, and inconsistencies in his tale cast doubt upon his honesty), scuttles through the stories of others, recounting secrets both confidentially shared and invasively discovered. Unable to support himself on burglary alone, the narrator takes a job as a busboy, but runs into complications after discovering his lover's connection to the restaurant's most prominent customer. The novel's gritty back-alley world gives rise to a host of glorious rogues, each swindling the others at every opportunity, and yet each is capable of great empathy under just the right circumstances. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
A disturbed Arab immigrant in Montreal tries to insinuate himself into a strange new world. Hope and survival are not the same thing, indeed can often be mutually exclusive, Hage (De Niro's Game, 2007) demonstrates. The nameless narrator has landed in Quebec with little more than memories of his sister's murder to keep him company. In the wake of a failed suicide attempt (a jogger spotted him hanging from a tree and called the park police), he's thieving his way through an outlandish netherworld of immigrants like himself trying to make it by hook or by crook. The struggle has stripped away much of his humanity. "The underground, my friend, is a world of its own," he declares. "Other humans gaze at the sky, but I say unto you, the only way through the world is to pass through the underground." Wrath against his fellow man is largely undiminished by his tenuous subterranean connections, but he holds his temper for the two women in his life: Genevieve, his psychologist, and Shoreh, an Iranian waitress who shares his bed. Hage's certainly unreliable, possible deranged narrator is only the most noticeably unsettling ingredient in a stew of stylistic experimentation that emulates not only the tangled threads of immigrant fiction but also the dystopian visions of Kafka and Burroughs. (The protagonist imagines himself an insect and occasionally converses with a six-foot albino cockroach.) If the novel has a drawback, it's that Hage can't quite commit to the strangeness of his story, hastily tying up loose ends with a more conventional plotline involving Shoreh's torturers reemerging from the past. Messy but sophisticated, odd and decidedly interesting.
Colm Tóibín - New York Review of Books
“There is something exhilarating about [Cockroach's] relentlessness. . . . The narrator is ambiguous, untrustworthy, sly, and filled with a despair both nasty and noisy; but he is also deeply wounded, oddly lovable, his voice both moving and manipulative.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393075373
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/12/2009
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Rawi Hage is a writer and visual artist. His two critically acclaimed novels, De Niro’s Game and Cockroach, have been translated into twenty-nine languages. De Niro’s Game was the winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and Cockroach was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and for the Governor General’s Literary Award. Born in Beirut, Hage lives in Montreal.
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