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The Roaches Have No King

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  598 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
"Dark and erotic in addition to being clever and charming. It is laced with sexual scenes so graphic I hesitate to share them with you"—New York Times Book Review

When Ira Fishblatt’s girlfriend, Ruth Grubstein, moves into his apartment, he has the kitchen renovated to make her feel at home. She is tickled pink, but hundreds of other houseguests aren’t—the cockroaches who’d
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 1st 2001 by Serpent's Tail (first published 1990)
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Sep 09, 2008 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the more bizarre books I've read lately, and I'm not a stranger to bizarre books. I'm not exaggerating when I say that there were a few sections in this book that I had an actual, visceral reaction to. The story is about a colony of intelligent roaches who are trying to carve out a better life for themselves by ruining the lives of the humans whose apartment they occupy. It's equally funny and unsettling, and it'll probably give you pause the next time you go to crush some insect ...more
Feb 06, 2013 Rob rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, american, kindle
This is no 'Metamorphosis' ('Die Verwandlung') with laughs. A herd, bunch , flock, mob (not sure what the collective noun is) of Cockroaches achieve some sort of human understanding by eating through the contents of a book case. Some of them take on human characteristics of the authors or characters of these books but they are still roaches with no real understanding of human behavior.
The protagonist roach is called Numbers. He tries to manipulate the humans of the apartment into becoming more
Nick Colen
Jun 14, 2012 Nick Colen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life-changers
This was one of the books that tought me to love contemporary fiction. Daniel Evan Weiss is one of my all time favorite authors. The NY called him "the evil kanievel of novelist" his stories are gritty to the point of being filthy but they also feature more heart and honesty than almost any of his more famous contemporaries. This book is the story of numbers, a cockroach born in the bible chapter of the same name and his struggle to understand the world the humans around him and his place in it. ...more
Mar 12, 2010 matteo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, a caveat or ten for this one: I flew through it. It was like reading a book version of Jackass or South Park or something. Absolutely disgusting, revolting, and gross.... and well written, fascinating, and so out-of-left-field that it was kind of awesome. (Okay, maybe more South Park and less Jackass) But I can't actually recommend this to anyone who is easily offended or has a weak stomach. So. There you go. Read at your own risk.
May 12, 2012 Kacey4kc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is very well written but strange. I probably would have never read it if it hadn't been on the shelf due to my husband. I happened to see it on our shelf and picked it up. I ended up finishing the book in one sitting although i did stay up later than I planned.I think I might have found it difficult to sleep after reading it if I lived in place where roaches are more common. The story was engaging an I found myself rooting for Number even while being disturbed by some of his actions.
Apr 22, 2012 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-novels
One of the most humorous books, up there with Dug Adams Hitchiker's Guide. It is also quite good as an allegory. Imaginative beyond belief.
Feb 09, 2011 JenniferRuth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
If you want an original read then I would recommend this book. It is probably quite unlike most things I have read before. The closest comparison I could make would be to Will Self's Great Apes. Both books are trying to comment on human nature by moving outside of ourselves.

The basic plot is that a cockroach called Numbers wants to take over an apartment and try to manipulate the human inhabitants into making life better for him and his fellow cockroaches. Via Numbers the author makes quite an
Oct 29, 2009 Sonia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: have
After allowing this book to loiter on my "to-read" shelf and in my Amazon wishlist (although a used copy ran all of $.50) forever, finally I ordered and read it. It was definitely worth the wait.

I've just been through a string of disappointing reads. Not that the works in and of themselves were bad, but I just haven't read anything lately that I full out enjoyed, and I'm so glad I picked this book off the shelf.

The reality is that this book is actually about roaches; in particular, one diaboli
Mar 09, 2012 Riccardo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
Gli scarafaggi non hanno re, in questa grottesca storia di Weiss, ma di sicuro sono dotati di un'intelligenza superiore che gli permette di leggere e comprendere il nostro linguaggio. In prosperità, gli scarafaggi filosofi analizzano le differenze, soprattuto legate alla sfera sessuale, fra le due specie. Tuttavia presto la batteglia per la sopravvivenza li spingerà ad organizzarsi e a cercare di collaborare. Nonostante gli sforzi e i piani ben architettati, la vita è dura per gli amici a 6 zamp ...more
La Stamberga dei Lettori
Ammetto di essere di gusti un po' difficili. Al ristorante sono capace di studiare il menu per un'ora prima di fare la mia scelta e lo stesso accade spesso in libreria. È raro quindi che mi ritrovi per le mani qualcosa che mi faccia proprio schifo (libri da 1 stellina, per intenderci) e quando accade, evito di parlarne perché mi hanno lasciato così poco che non saprei cosa dire. Questa volta però la delusione è stata troppo intensa e quindi ho scritto di getto questa recensione.
La trama mi appa
Jul 30, 2007 Erin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Entymologists
I bought this book used because I needed a beach read on my vacation. The concept intrigued me - the central character is a cockroach trying to reclaim his apartment from its human occupants. It was pretty entertaining and light enough for the beach, but the depiction of black characters seemed a bit racist - I couldn't tell if it was meant to be satirical or not. Also, and I know this sounds ridiculous in a review of a book about a talking cockroach, but - some of the story didn't make sense. T ...more
Alistair Loynes
This is just simply one of the weirdest books I've ever read. The world from a cockroaches point of view, and one colonies fight for survival in an Apartment - trying to manipulate their human occupiers. So full marks for being different, it kept me reading until I put it down. However weird does not necessarily equate to great - some of the things our head cockroach 'Numbers' got up to stretched credulity (i.e. the idea of muff diving cockroaches, ahem - made me feel distinctly queasy), althoug ...more
Aug 02, 2007 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a sense of humor and a strong stomach
Shelves: fiction
The Roaches Have No King, by Daniel Evan Weiss, is a clever tale of cockroach “societal” dynamics, told from the perspective of the cockroach. Mind you, this is not a book for everyone – the “Ew Factor” is very high, especially in passages concerning the interaction between human and cockroach; some may find it downright unreadable for this reason. That said, I found it a funny, creative and involving story of roach sensibilities and their take on the world around them. The grossness isn’t gratu ...more
Jul 13, 2010 Elp rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Some wonderfully philosophical observations of the human psyche told from the point of view of a cockroach, completely undermined by overly crass and unnecessarily disgusting parts. This often makes the points he makes seem flippant, losing the impact they may have had.

One part in particular near the end that I won't go into was very harrowing.

Not for the faint hearted...or even people not normally offended. I've got a strong stomach but often felt squeamish reading it in public.
Cameron Casey
Apr 09, 2010 Cameron Casey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilaross. I combined hilarious and gross because this book is both. It is almost always disgusting, but so creative and possibly cerebral, assuming you enjoy roach humor and very graphic descriptions of everything. Told from the roach persepctive; an objective view at human beings and an imaginative take on roach life. Weiss knows how to tell an interesting story.

Amazing. Interesting. Disgusting. Creative. I cannot possibly warn and suggest this book enough.
Feb 19, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this in a book club I was once in. DON'T!
Joy Ritter
Jun 23, 2012 Joy Ritter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OUTSTANDING - from a roaches point of view, easy to read, went fast and was very interesting. Just cute! I lent it to someone and never saw the book again :(
Sep 17, 2009 Gerrit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A perverse, hysterically funny view of human life, from the perspective of a cockroach. Out of print, alas.
Jul 15, 2008 Allegra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I need to find another copy of this book. It is on my re-read list. Hilarious. Read the first page, and you will be hooked.
Paul Bryant
Nov 06, 2007 Paul Bryant rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 14 year old boys
Shelves: novels
After a while it was the same damn joke over and over again. Really bad, bad, bad.
Jan 23, 2009 Lynda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this because I was hoping it would be like Joe's Apartment would have been if Will Self had written it.

It's exactly like that and it turns out that isn't a good thing.
Oct 15, 2016 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is raunchy; I can see why it struggled to find a publisher. It's David Lynch meets Animal Farm meets pornography. Weiss humanizes the roach but leaves him with baggage (there's a float down the sewer and commentary from the toilet rim, for example). For that reason and for its creative perspective you will never forget this book (and there are parts you don't want floating to mind at random moments, let me tell you).

The premise is this: Jewish Ira Fishblatt shares his apartment (in NYC
Apr 21, 2011 Morgan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a really frustrating book. There are quite a few fantastic moments in it. It handles the roach POV perfectly, and I really got into the way that they think and feel, they way that they worked with each other, and the general world. The main character is engaging and you really do want him to succeed.

Unfortunately there are three really big problems. First, is that there are several scenes in the book where he buries critical details of action so that you either don't know or can't possi
Martina Hava
Jul 02, 2013 Martina Hava rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like the author. He is intelligent, funny, witty actually, and he has an amazing vocabulary, far superior to that found in, for example Harlequin Books. His writing addresses intelligent, educated people.
After finishing The Magic of Middle-Aged Women, I was looking for another book from the same author.
The Roaches Have No King was compared to Kafka’s Metamorphoses. It is not comparable. I think Daniel Weiss’ book is far better. Similar in theme, creating a bug’s world that is humanized, I feel
Jan 17, 2017 Vincenzo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dopo aver letto questo romanzo, odierò ancor di più gli scarafaggi. In realtà la storia è avvincente, Numeri, il protagonista, appartenente alla specie di blattella germanica, escogita varie strategie con la propria colonia per riappropriarsi del posto che gli spetta, dopo che Ruth, nuova fiamma del proprietario di casa, Ira, rinnova la struttura della cucina in un moderno "tapperware", trappola mortale per gli insoliti protagonisti del romanzo. Al che, Numeri, con le sue scorribande porterà al ...more
Aug 23, 2009 Mazel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roman
Le narrateur de ce livre s'appelle Nombres.

Il est né dans une bibliothèque de New York et appartient à l'espèce des dictyoptères, famille des blattellae germanicae, en français, les cafards.

Nombres et ses compagnons vivent heureux dans l'appartement d'Ira et de la Gitane, quand celle-ci, excellente cuisinière mais souillon de première, décide de quitter le domicile conjugal.

Elle est remplacée par Ruth, qui fait de l'ordre une religion et qui laisse subitement affamée la colonie des blattes pa
Jan 27, 2009 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Strange and interesting. I liked the concept -- cockroaches as philosophers -- but I'm not sure how long this will stay with me. This was first published in the UK as "Unnatural Selection" which I think is a better name. There are certainly plenty of unnatural occurrences in this one. Anyhow this was dirty and crazy but I liked it better than a lot of, say, Palahniuk. The seamy parts of this book were at least pretty humorous.

I kept thinking about the Pearl Jam song "Rats" which pretty much is t
Juliet Wilson
Jun 13, 2009 Juliet Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
This is a brilliant book, sometimes hilarious, sometimes gross and always intelligent and clever. The basic plot is that cockroaches take over an apartment and try to manipulate the human inhabitants into making life better for them, the cockroaches. The fact that the story is narrated from the point of view of a cockroach gives the author plenty of opportunity to make observations on evolution, ecology and human civilisation from a distinctly non-human viewpoint. I love the way that each roach ...more
Ashley Lewis
Jun 18, 2010 Ashley Lewis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody wanting to read something different
Finally, something different! The world through a roach's perspective. While the concept of this book intrigued me and kept me gripped, I found myself often confused by where this book was going. Many of the scenes depicted in it were quite bizarre. That, of course, being far from a complaint. Numbers, the narrator, is quite the clever little roach. He is very intelligent, and yet, he doesn't do something that was so drastically important to the lives of the citizens in his colony; just moving t ...more
Jun 04, 2014 Leezus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A castle of excrement - this is a genius piece of work. Magical animal blattella germanus on (literal)crack do not disappoint. Overtly comedic and always disgusting these roaches rules, fending for their lives while utilizing unholy racism and eclecticism to score the face of human history with a truly immortal primordialism. The perspective is perfect, Pixar couldn't have done a better job and the disgusting imagery is so effective that even I, man of the iron guts, was physically retching at t ...more
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Daniel Evan Weiss is the author of four novels: The Roaches Have No King, Hell on Wheels, Honk if You Love Aphrodite, and The Swine’s Wedding. His most recent book is non-fiction, The Magic of Middle-aged Women: Romance, Sex, Deviance--Freedom.
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