Cockroach: Book summary and reviews of Cockroach by Rawi Hage

Cockroach

A Novel

by Rawi Hage

Cockroach by Rawi Hage X
Cockroach by Rawi Hage
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2009
    320 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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 naïve 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. .

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. 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." -Publishers Weekly

"Although Hage leaves much unexplained, readers will be fascinated both by the inner lives of the troubled characters and by the textured portrait of Montreal’s immigrant community." - Booklist

"Messy but sophisticated, odd and decidedly interesting." - Kirkus Reviews

“[A] dark and uncompromising vision [which] 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." - The Guardian

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Author Information

Rawi Hage Author Biography

Rawi Hage was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and lived through nine years of the Lebanese civil war during the 1970s and 1980s. He immigrated to Canada in 1992 and now lives in Montreal. His first novel, De Niro's Game, won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for the best English-language book published anywhere in the world in a given year, and has either won or been shortlisted for seven other major awards and prizes, including the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award. Cockroach was the winner of the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and a finalist for the Governor General's Award. It was also shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Award and the Giller Prize. His third novel, Carnival, told from the perspective of a taxi driver, was a finalist for ...

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