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Cockroach: A Novel
     

Cockroach: A Novel

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by Rawi Hage
 

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A bold, razor-sharp novel about a shadowy antihero navigating Montreal’s immigrant underworld.

One of the most highly anticipated novels of the year, Cockroach is as urgent, unsettling, and brilliant as Rawi Hage’s critically acclaimed first book, De Niro’s Game. The novel takes place during one month of a bitterly cold

Overview

A bold, razor-sharp novel about a shadowy antihero navigating Montreal’s immigrant underworld.

One of the most highly anticipated novels of the year, Cockroach is as urgent, unsettling, and brilliant as Rawi Hage’s critically acclaimed first book, De Niro’s Game. The novel takes place during one month of a bitterly cold winter in Montreal’s restless immigrant community, where a self-described “thief” has just tried but failed to commit suicide by hanging himself from a tree in a local park. Rescued against his will, the narrator is obliged to attend sessions with a well-intentioned but naive therapist. This sets the story in motion, leading us back to the narrator’s violent childhood in a war-torn country, forward into his current life in the smoky émigré cafés where everyone has a tale, and out into the frozen nighttime streets of Montreal, where the thief survives on the edge, imagining himself to be a cockroach invading the lives of the privileged, but willfully blind, citizens who surround him.

Cockroach combines an uncompromising vision of humanity with razor-sharp portraits of society's outsiders, and a startling, poetic sensibility with bracing jolts of dark humor.

Editorial Reviews

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393076837
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
10/12/2009
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
314 KB

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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Cockroach 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not worth your time or money.