CHARACTERS ¾ Cockroach



10 thoughts on “Cockroach

  1. says:

    An Arab immigrant as a Scheherazade to his Canadian therapist his wild Third world past as 1001 nights to a steril life of taxpaying TV watching and self fooling A compulsively stealing uite lazy sexually starving resentful loner with a suicidal tendency a special talent for metaphors and ability to turn himself willingly unlike Kafka's Samsa into a cockroach Witty passionate prose great little kamikadze story Oh how I enjoyed this oneA spoilerish PS Still I'd take away half a star from my rating because of part of the ending Only police needs all the facts and all the motivations not literature it was enough for me to guess some of the past and future mishaps around the main character and his main lover seeing them explained and justifying all the rest kinda offends my intelligence Also I've read and seen on stage and in cinema Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden so I've already been long ago where Hage is trying to take my emotions by surprise for the catharsis As a human being I still react with compassion but as a fiction lover I have a déjà vu Yet I forgive you Rawi Hage for you're an addictive story teller Will be waiting for your next book


  2. says:

    Seeing as immigration is an integral element of the Canadian landscape it should come as no surprise that authors might seek to dip into this cultural stew for dramatic purposes Very few however would likely seek to add the phantasmagorical and hallucinatory elements that Rawi Hage’s novel Cockroach brings to the recipeThe Canadian author arose seemingly from out of nowhere in 2006 when his debut novel De Niro’s Game was rescued from the obscurity of the slush pile at House of Anansi Press The novel was immediately deluged with plaudits and awards culminating in his recent win of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award the largest English literary prize on the planetNo one could blame Hage for any perceived degree of tentativeness in his approach to his sopho novel Yet while it contains many of the same themes as his first Cockroach proves that Hage is not content to rest on his laurelsLeaving behind Game’s war blighted Lebanon Cockroach sets itself in the overtly familiar surroundings of Montreal But while the country may be considerably dissimilar Hage continues his penchant for bleak poetic atmosphere transforming the bustling metropolis into an alien topography of menial jobs mysterious accents insect infestations and class hostilitiesCockroach is first and foremost a character study of a stranger in a strange land A very strange stranger at that an individual who possesses the odd habit of imagining himself at times to be a cockroach; “Other humans gaze at the sky” he explains “ but I say unto you the only way through the world is to pass through the underground”Hage has on his mind than allusions to Franz Kafka however Like Kafka’s many baffled protagonists Hage’s anti hero may be bewildered by the machinations of the world but he is no mere observer taking pains wherever and whenever he can to make his presence feltSimilar to the leads in De Niro’s Game the narrator is not so much a hero as he is a survivor but with a far bleaker approach to life Unlike the start realism of the former novel’s the narrator of Cockroach may or may not be on the brink of insanity adding a surreal aspect to many of his daily encountersCockroach’s unnamed narrator is an immigrant to Canada an man who ekes out a living through a combination of odd jobs threats and surreptitious thievery After a haphazard suicide attempt explained as being “a challenge to nature to the cosmos itself to the recurring light” he is ordered to attend therapy sessions to assess his mental competencyThe narrator is not having an easy time of it living in Montreal the clash of cultures altering the man he perceives himself to be “Here in this Northern land” he laments comparing his new life to his old “no one gives you an excuse to hit rob or shoot or even to shout from across the balcony to curse your neighbours’ mothers and threaten their kids”Alongside a gift for breaking and entering the narrator prides himself on his ability to lay bare the true natures of those who surround him “I see people for what they are I strip them of everything and see their hollowness I strip them and they are relieved of the burden of colour and disguise”Hage writes his tale in short declarative sentences capturing the despondency of a life of potential trapped in a world as similarly rigid in its caste structure as the land that he left The narrator grimly acknowledges himself and his acuaintances as “the scum of the earth in this capitalist endeavour” and it becomes readily apparent that Hage did not have to trek too far to revisit the themes of isolation and pain that suffused the pages of Di Niro’s GameLike that novel Cockroach occasionally betrays a wicked wit beneath the pathos manifesting through the narrator’s inserting himself into the lives of those he watches “I was part of their TV dinner” he writes after one young couple watches him as they would watch a reality television show “I was spinning in a microwave stripped of my plastic cover eaten and defecated the next morning just as the filtered coffee was brewing in the kitchen and the radio was prophesying the weather telling them what to wear what to buy what to say whom to watch and whom to like and hate”Despite its many admirable ualities Cockroach is not flawless There is an abrupt switch at the halfway point as a formalized plot begins to force its way onto the page The ending involving a weirdly played subplot of a mysterious figure who draws the attention of the narrator’s friends feels rushed and incompleteCockroach is also like its hero a supremely frustrating creature alternately fascinating and confused By the finale the skill of Hage is readily apparent but there is a maddening sense of incompleteness to the whole of the novel an impression exemplified by the narrator’s freuent digressions that entertain and provoke but don’t linger in the mind a dilemma De Niro’s Game so effortlessly avoidedNevertheless Cockroach reveals Hage to be no mere fluke but a fearless talent with his best years ahead Regardless of its shortcomings Cockroach exposes a world so otherworldly to most Canadians as to be near unimaginable and reveals an author on the cusp of greatness


  3. says:

    Disturbing Less of what I liked so much about his first in the way of sweeping poetic language to describe a world of hallucinogenic brutality and focused on an internal world of delusion trauma and sadness The central character here is a soul in great pain but the first two thirds of the novel don't plumb those depths except by inference The superficiality of the court assigned psychotherapist's intervention compared to the gradual revelation of what caused the 'cockroach's' flight and descent into crime and mental breakdown is the framework for the central dramatic tension and I thought very effective But it takes a while to unfold and Hage's style I found here to be almost too complex for telling a personal story compared to providing overall atmospherescene setting as in De Niro's Game This is a tough read very intense and immersive and there's not a lot of relief Actually there's no relief Given the story it tells this is probably exactly as it should be


  4. says:

    Oh was I disappointed with this book?I hate it It's about all of the clichés that frame immigrants messed up psychotic sex addicts egocentric psychopaths thiefs hallucinating drunkies drug addicts filthy leechesI happen to know many Lebanese who are immigrants in Canada they have worked hard they're serious people they fled the war but they weren't psychotics who got turned on by their own sisters And they're not a threat or terrorists in the make what the hell is this author trying to say?? What is wrong with him?This book is why I don't read much Arabic books cheap pornographic shallow cliché a sad excuse of a bookAnd was the writer trying to imitate Kafka's 'the Metamorphosis'? Just wonderingAfter I was half through I just had it with this book so I started skipping pages just to see how it endsAlso all of these political stereotypes about the civil war All used to justify his cockroach lifestyle I couldn't sympathize with it And it made no sense because the character isn't studied in a deep manner we are told about what he does breaking into a house stealing food living with dirty dishes infested with cockroaches etc we never know what he feels inside the author only describes the delusions I don't know why it is very much loved and praised maybe because it feeds certain propaganda and stereotypes It was okay at first but then I just despised it and lost all interestIs the narrator antisocial or schizoid or what? In all means it doesn't add up it makes no reliable sense for a scientific diagnosis I wanted ti give it two stars because the author can write I just hate how Canadians read this and think this represents Lebanese modern literature it kills me


  5. says:

    Rawi Hage’s second novel Cockroach takes place during a frigid Montreal winter and details the picaresue adventures of an unnamed protagonist a recent immigrant from the Middle East and self professed thief who often envisions himself as a giant cockroach Hage is the recent winner of English literature’s richest prize the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his debut novel DeNiro’s Game which I did not read; as such there has been a considerable degree of anticipation for this new bookThere are two narrative arcs in this novel The primary arc is a first person description of the protagonist and his interactions within and without the shadowy émigré community of Montreal The secondary arc provides the backstory of the protagonist’s family history in the old country as detailed to his government appointed psychologistHage writes with an almost relentless forward momentum and the prose uickly takes hold of the reader by providing an intimate depiction of the protagonist’s underworld The tone is persistently nihilistic particularly in the first half cynical and dark This is reflected in the actions of the unnamed protagonist who breaks into the homes of his acuaintances for petty reasons or none at all and sells drugs to shallow and self obsessed young uebecois These young cocaine addled materialists who live “expensive apartments with faux shantytown architecture” are viciously described by the protagonist who recognizes their implicit acceptance of him as nothing than their latest exotic fashion accessory another acuisition from the savage East The following passages illustrate this gleefully sardonic tone and there is much of this in the novelAll of her friends too lived in a state of permanent denial of the bad smells from sewers infested slums unheated apartments single mothers on welfare worn out clothing No everything had to be perfect every morsel of food had to be well served — presentation always presentation the ultimate mask They were corrupt empty selfish self absorbed I despised them; they admired meThis unrelenting nihilism untypical in many ways of Canadian literature is coupled with a fascinating use of imagery It is this imagery that has the greatest impact upon the reader As the title implies the protagonist views himself as a giant cockroach uick and agile feeding off the detritus of civil society thriving in the dark and recognizing no boundaries and barriers He comes to identify with the cockroaches infesting his apartment to the point of conversing with a giant albino roach He exists on the edge of madness for reasons that become clear as the novel progressesDespite all the cynicism surreal imagery and nihilistic tone which many have found offputting the ultimate sense conveyed by the protagonist is a profound sense of loneliness As he laments to his psychiatristI just wanted to know you I said I just wanted to be invited inThis loneliness is coupled with a deep sense of responsibility and shame by the protagonist at his failure to affect an earlier tragedy The primary narrative arc of this novel is his attempt to atone for this tragedy And as such the novel is ultimately a novel of redemptionI found it fascinating a very uick read and enjoyed the propulsive narrative style The imagery stretches a bit too far in some cases and parts of the second are a bit slow but these are minor complaints I look forward to reading from Hage in the future


  6. says:

    Cockroach is an engaging character thief suicidal obsessed with the underbelly of life hating his new homeland and the people who live in it why did he come I wanted to ask supposedly illiterate but wonderfully articulate and poetic especially when he runs off into stream of consciousness ramblings on the state of his mind and of the nationThere is also a trend in writing which I recently tried to address in a blog article and I call it let it all hang out writing which Hage seems to capture extremely well I don't necessarily agree that this level of detail on the human condition is reuired in literature But when a narrator talks about not washing his hands after pissing extracting sweet nectar from between women’s legs examining used condoms and eating shit I think we are in the zone of extreme shock value It's as if the writer has no confidence in using less graphic prose to draw his reader inThen there is another form of writing that frankly irritates me the lack of punctuation and uotation marks I know that we are in an age of experimenting with various new writing forms and older practices are being dropped all part of continuous improvement but when there is a story within a story and both narrators are I for instance the lack of uotation marks can be uite misleading and it happens uite freuently in this novel I think punctuation and uotes were invented to overcome the shortcomings in straight prose and to discard them arbitrarily shows a lack of respect for those who have gone before As for the plot in this novel it seems to develop midway What was initially a character story about the aimless ramblings of our Cockroach becomes a crimeespionage story in the end as if an editor said this is not good enough brother kick up the action and our unwilling author not wanting to screw up his sopho novel complied half heartedly For all the graphic descriptions in the first two thirds of the novel the ending was minimalist and disappointingDespite all these shortcomings Hage opened me to the inner lives of Iranian and Middle Eastern immigrant groups operating on the fringes of Montreal society One wonders whether these immigrants were better off in their homelands despite the threat of physical torture and incarceration they faced there In their new homeland in Canada they are eternally condemned to marginalized lives poverty identity crisis the bitter cold of winter a form of torture to those improperly clad and from warmer countries Cockroach is jubilant when he steals a pair of boots that finally warms his feet from the cold and hope that can only to be found in the underground into which our resilient Cockroach finally descends They are also not absolved from the proverbial bullet that they dodged for so long in order to get to our perceived safe shores


  7. says:

    Awesome and haunting and a spot on sense of Montreal portraits the eccentric landlady with fading aristocratic colors the exploitative bosses the hyper educated cab drivers The blur of fantasy reality across undergroundoverground story layers really worked for me Highly recommended Also funny as hell


  8. says:

    Yes I completed the book yesterday afternoon and attended the discussion at the library last nightWe had a good turnout there than expected the weather being cold and wetFeelings on the book were mixed not so much around the table but within ourselves as individual members We all agreed on it being a good book in that the author's characters including the protag were exasperating peopleProtag and nobody can figure out what his name is feels sorry for himself due to his 'poorness' Some agreed with me that there are people worse off than him He's an immigrant albiet a seven year resident in Montreal who is having problems adjusting He seems to expect the world owes him a living and a mighty fine one at that He has mental problems; that's a given he thinks he's part cockroachAnd he's cold lonely even though he does have a handful of friends who infuriate him when he cannot easily manipulate them into doing his biddingThere's a therapist Genevieve who is typical of the complacent social worker who becomes totally exasperated with the young man when he admits to his wrongdoings his seeming to think his poorness and other people's apparent abundance fully justifies his penchant for break in and theftThe story ends in a bizarre act of violence that does not ring true to anyone's mind Yet when you really think about it it's entirely possible I recommend this read as well as the author's other novel De Niro's Game You may not like the book simply because of the characters who seem to have few redeeming ualitiesBut I have often maintained that if an author can make you dislike and sometimes even hate his characters with a passion then that writer has done hisher jobTurn the pages of this book and you will see


  9. says:

    What a fresh approach to dealing with issues of exile I had begun to despair that Arab writers could do it could write novels that could be taken seriously aesthetically and also pay homage to the issues political and social that must dominate the psyche of all Arabs What was impressive was how effortlessly the writer moved from West to East from describing the banal self absorbed existence of people in the West to describing the hysterical emotionally loaded and usually desperate realities of the East It was interesting here to see a Lebanese writer not obsessed with writing about the Lebanese in the West narrator excluded but focusing mainly on other immigrant communities Algerian and mainly Iranian Lebanon is never named in the novel although there are enough clues provided to warrant the conclusion that the narrator must be from civil war Lebanon Most Lebanese writers are obsessed with their Lebaneseness It is refershing to see Rawi Hage able to wrangle himself from it all and locate his issues in the wider socio political realities of all exiles leaving their dangerous shores only to descend into a cold vast landmark less land that freezes everything except their memories


  10. says:

    There is a lot packed into this book It is hard to separate my feelings for the main character and my feelings for the book The book is at its core about a marginalized immigrant who has a failed suicide attempt and his interactions with the few other human beings in his life I found the books comments on society's and other people's views of the main character interesting than his own thoughts He is someone who is marginalized by society and one of those whom many would not even notice or if they did they would avoid The therapist employed to help him is woefully uneuipped to understand where he is coming from and the day to day realities he is facing The book does a great job of bringing the reader along for a walk in the main characters shoes Although he is not a likeable character I hope everyone who reads this book will take at least a few minutes when they encounter struggling and marginalized people in their life


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READ è THISISWHYYOUREFESTIVE.CO.UK Ë Rawi Hage

Cockroach is as urgent unsettling and brilliant as Rawi Hage's bestselling and critically acclaimed first book De Niro's GameThe 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 Rescued against his will the narrator is oblig An Arab immigrant as a Scheherazade to his Canadian therapist his wild Third world past as 1001 nights to a steril life of taxpaying TV watching and self fooling A compulsively stealing uite lazy sexually starving resentful loner with a suicidal tendency a special talent for metaphors and ability to turn himself willingly unlike Kafka's Samsa into a cockroach Witty passionate prose great little kamikadze story Oh how I enjoyed this oneA spoilerish PS Still I'd take away half a star from my rating because of part of the ending Only police needs all the facts and all the motivations not literature it was enough for me to guess some of the past and future mishaps around the main character and his main lover seeing them explained and justifying all the rest kinda offends my intelligence Also I've read and seen on stage and in cinema Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden so I've already been long ago where Hage is trying to take my emotions by surprise for the catharsis As a human being I still react with compassion but as a fiction lover I have a déjà vu Yet I forgive you Rawi Hage for you're an addictive story teller Will be waiting for your next book Dance Band on the Titanic life of taxpaying TV watching and self fooling A compulsively stealing uite Chroma: A Photographer's Guide to Lighting With Color lazy sexually starving resentful The Hokku or Epigram Versus of Basho loner with a suicidal tendency a special talent for metaphors and ability to turn himself willingly unlike Kafka's Samsa into a cockroach Witty passionate prose great Spank! little kamikadze story Oh how I enjoyed this oneA spoilerish PS Still I'd take away half a star from my rating because of part of the ending Only police needs all the facts and all the motivations not Prison Ramen literature it was enough for me to guess some of the past and future mishaps around the main character and his main Saints and Misfits lover seeing them explained and justifying all the rest kinda offends my intelligence Also I've read and seen on stage and in cinema Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden so I've already been Macroeconomics (7th Edition) long ago where Hage is trying to take my emotions by surprise for the catharsis As a human being I still react with compassion but as a fiction Godzilla Returns lover I have a déjà vu Yet I forgive you Rawi Hage for you're an addictive story teller Will be waiting for your next book

FREE DOWNLOAD Cockroach

Cockroach

G himself to be a cockroach invading the lives of the privileged but wilfully blind citizens who surround himIn 2008 Cockroach was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize the Governor General's Literary Award and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize It won the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction presented by the uebec Writers' Federatio Yes I completed the book yesterday afternoon and attended the discussion at the library last nightWe had a good turnout there than expected the weather being cold and wetFeelings on the book were mixed not so much around the table but within ourselves as individual members We all agreed on it being a good book in that the author's characters including the protag were exasperating peopleProtag and nobody can figure out what his name is feels sorry for himself due to his 'poorness' Some agreed with me that there are people worse off than him He's an immigrant albiet a seven year resident in Montreal who is having problems adjusting He seems to expect the world owes him a living and a mighty fine one at that He has mental problems; that's a given he thinks he's part cockroachAnd he's cold lonely even though he does have a handful of friends who infuriate him when he cannot easily manipulate them into doing his biddingThere's a therapist Genevieve who is typical of the complacent social worker who becomes totally exasperated with the young man when he admits to his wrongdoings his seeming to think his poorness and other people's apparent abundance fully justifies his penchant for break in and theftThe story ends in a bizarre act of violence that does not ring true to anyone's mind Yet when you really think about it it's entirely possible I recommend this read as well as the author's other novel De Niro's Game You may not like the book simply because of the characters who seem to have few redeeming ualitiesBut I have often maintained that if an author can make you dislike and sometimes even hate his characters with a passion then that writer has done hisher jobTurn the pages of this book and you will see Chroma: A Photographer's Guide to Lighting With Color lives of the privileged but wilfully blind citizens who surround himIn 2008 Cockroach was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize the Governor General's Literary Award and the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize It won the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction presented by the uebec Writers' Federatio Yes I completed the book yesterday afternoon and attended the discussion at the The Hokku or Epigram Versus of Basho library Spank! last nightWe had a good turnout there than expected the weather being cold and wetFeelings on the book were mixed not so much around the table but within ourselves as individual members We all agreed on it being a good book in that the author's characters including the protag were exasperating peopleProtag and nobody can figure out what his name is feels sorry for himself due to his 'poorness' Some agreed with me that there are people worse off than him He's an immigrant albiet a seven year resident in Montreal who is having problems adjusting He seems to expect the world owes him a Prison Ramen living and a mighty fine one at that He has mental problems; that's a given he thinks he's part cockroachAnd he's cold Saints and Misfits lonely even though he does have a handful of friends who infuriate him when he cannot easily manipulate them into doing his biddingThere's a therapist Genevieve who is typical of the complacent social worker who becomes totally exasperated with the young man when he admits to his wrongdoings his seeming to think his poorness and other people's apparent abundance fully justifies his penchant for break in and theftThe story ends in a bizarre act of violence that does not ring true to anyone's mind Yet when you really think about it it's entirely possible I recommend this read as well as the author's other novel De Niro's Game You may not Macroeconomics (7th Edition) like the book simply because of the characters who seem to have few redeeming ualitiesBut I have often maintained that if an author can make you dislike and sometimes even hate his characters with a passion then that writer has done hisher jobTurn the pages of this book and you will see

READ è THISISWHYYOUREFESTIVE.CO.UK Ë Rawi Hage

Ed 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 emigre cafes where everyone has a tale and out into the frozen night time streets of Montreal where the thief survives on the edge imaginin Cockroach is an engaging character thief suicidal obsessed with the underbelly of life hating his new homeland and the people who live in it why did he come I wanted to ask supposedly illiterate but wonderfully articulate and poetic especially when he runs off into stream of consciousness ramblings on the state of his mind and of the nationThere is also a trend in writing which I recently tried to address in a blog article and I call it let it all hang out writing which Hage seems to capture extremely well I don't necessarily agree that this level of detail on the human condition is reuired in literature But when a narrator talks about not washing his hands after pissing extracting sweet nectar from between women’s legs examining used condoms and eating shit I think we are in the zone of extreme shock value It's as if the writer has no confidence in using less graphic prose to draw his reader inThen there is another form of writing that frankly irritates me the lack of punctuation and uotation marks I know that we are in an age of experimenting with various new writing forms and older practices are being dropped all part of continuous improvement but when there is a story within a story and both narrators are I for instance the lack of uotation marks can be uite misleading and it happens uite freuently in this novel I think punctuation and uotes were invented to overcome the shortcomings in straight prose and to discard them arbitrarily shows a lack of respect for those who have gone before As for the plot in this novel it seems to develop midway What was initially a character story about the aimless ramblings of our Cockroach becomes a crimeespionage story in the end as if an editor said this is not good enough brother kick up the action and our unwilling author not wanting to screw up his sopho novel complied half heartedly For all the graphic descriptions in the first two thirds of the novel the ending was minimalist and disappointingDespite all these shortcomings Hage opened me to the inner lives of Iranian and Middle Eastern immigrant groups operating on the fringes of Montreal society One wonders whether these immigrants were better off in their homelands despite the threat of physical torture and incarceration they faced there In their new homeland in Canada they are eternally condemned to marginalized lives poverty identity crisis the bitter cold of winter a form of torture to those improperly clad and from warmer countries Cockroach is jubilant when he steals a pair of boots that finally warms his feet from the cold and hope that can only to be found in the underground into which our resilient Cockroach finally descends They are also not absolved from the proverbial bullet that they dodged for so long in order to get to our perceived safe shores