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The Cockroach

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  953 ratings  ·  170 reviews
That morning, Jim Sams, clever but by no means profound, woke from uneasy dreams to find himself transformed into a gigantic creature.

Jim Sams has undergone a metamorphosis. In his previous life he was ignored or loathed, but in his new incarnation he is the most powerful man in Britain – and it is his mission to carry out the will of the people. Nothing must get in his wa
Kindle Edition, 64 pages
Published September 27th 2019 by Vintage Digital
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Average rating 3.33  · 
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Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
Supposedly a Brexit satire, The Cockroach is well-written, but ultimately thin stuff.

The PM and his cabinet ministers have been bodyswapped with cockroaches. The roaches take the opportunity to implement their fiendish plot: Reversalism, a scheme to reverse the flow of funds in the economic system.

”In a brilliant coup, the Reversalist press managed to present their cause as a patriotic duty and a promise of national revival and purification: everything that was wrong with the country, including i/>”In
Dean J. Hill
Cockroach: a scavenging insect, household pest – or unloyal people with no honour who go against their word. Does that ring any bells? Ian McEwan’s work is categorised as fiction by the publisher, but the political world is much stranger than fiction at this moment in time. It’s a political satire of Brexit and the government, one which reads like a Private Eye feature or piece by Giles Coren in the Times. Kafkaesque as an allegory of Metamorphosis, a cockroach transforms into the British prime minister akin to Grego ...more
Ron Charles
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Ian McEwan’s little “Cockroach” scurried into the light this week. With a nod to Kafka, it’s a satirical novella about Brexit and Boris Johnson, the UK’s literate version of Donald Trump. As the story opens, a bug discovers he’s been transformed into the Prime Minister of England. “This is so unfair,” he thinks. “I don’t deserve this.” But soon the arthropodal PM sets about transforming Britain with a bug’s amoral determination. “He would be fast on his feet,” McEwan writes, “even though he only ...more
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was ok

'Here were the rest, and he recognized them instantly through their transparent, superficial human form. A band of brothers and sisters. The metamorphosed radical Cabinet. As they sat round the table, none gave the least indication of who they really were, and what they all knew. How eerily they resembled humans! Looking into and beyond the various shades of grey, green, blue and brown of their mammalian eyes, right through to the shimmering blattodean core of their being, he unde
Kasa Cotugno
Because I read everything McEwan puts out, I was interested in his take on Brexit, but wish he'd gone further. Or in another direction. Or Something.
Sep 12, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: uk
Ian McEwan does a Brexit-spin on The Metamorphosis? I'm here for it!

“As the nation tears itself apart, constitutional norms are set aside, parliament is closed down so that the Government cannot be challenged at a crucial time and ministers lie about it shamelessly in the old Soviet style, and when many Brexiters in high place seem to crave the economic catastrophe of a no deal and English national extremists are attacking the police in Parliament Square, a writer is bound to ask what he or she can do./>“As
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
1 Stars.

Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis.
A milestone in literature, a story fit for creeping out anyone. The story of how a man turns into a giant insect one day (a cockroach). The man dies towards the end, having no means to earn money and thus a burden on his family.

Cockroach is based on the very same concept, but with a slight twist. Here, the cockroach turns into a man. And not only anyone, but the President himself.
What ensues is total and absolute havoc, as he, Jim Sams (
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was ok
McEwan has proven his skill with satire (Nutshell) and socio-political commentary (Solar), so this 'Kafka-in-reverse' (a cockroach turns into a man) pastiche is a curious misstep. Dull and plodding, it has a stellar premise in that said cockroach morphs into the UK PM, and launches a policy of economic 'reversalism' that quickly goes global. Sadly, the polemic outweighs the contrivance.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I sped through this fun and timely little book in a single sitting. And while it slyly lampoons a political situation that almost defies satire (taking the piss out of Boris and Donald seems kind of redundant, no?), it is ultimately slight and inconsequential. A few decent chuckles to be had for now, but destined to age badly. Solidly, a 3.5 star distraction.
Oct 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Generally speaking, comparing those you disagree with to cockroaches is considered bad form. It's one of the reasons we disapprove of Katie Hopkins, for example. I think this isn't quite in that category though. It's more of a cross between Metamorphosis and perhaps a dash of Animal Farm, telling a parable of a senseless act of national self harm (definitely not Brexit though - noooo). Its a new book and I suppose must have been rushed into print because the leader is definitely more Johnson tha ...more
Sep 14, 2019 marked it as to-read
Ian McEwan does Brexit satire in the vein of Kafka’s Metamorphosis?

On board with it. 💁♂
Matthew Hickey
Oh, Ian.
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Ian McEwan's new novella opens with a huge nod to Kafka's The Metamorphosis. A move that succeeds in raising your expectations for this Brexit-inspired political satire. The problem is, after the first few paragraphs, it becomes painfully clear that The Cockroach in no way resembles the work it seems so keen to ally itself with. McEwan attempts to flip the switch by opening with a cockroach waking up in the Prime Minister's body. To add to the general confusion, Britain is at a political crossro ...more
Oct 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
A self masturbatory book. It's obvious metaphors and clunky pacing irritated me.

Even as a far left reader this book is painfully dull and beats you over the head with its message.

This book takes the word subtlety and throws it in a blender until it's a thick paste. Then it proceeds to force feed you with bad analogies of the current political climate in Britain.

It doesn't bring anything new to the table, all it does is make ham-fisted comparisons to brexit. ...more
Oct 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
No thank you
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I’ll put as much effort into this review as McEwan put into this novella.

The Cockroach is pointless, lazy, pompous and tone deaf.
Sep 13, 2019 marked it as wish-list

Ian McEwan announces surprise Brexit satire, The Cockroach
Lena B
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just have one question: why?
Chloe Lee
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
The only reason I kept on reading was really because Ian McEwan wrote it.
Oct 03, 2019 added it
Shelves: fiction-literary
You might love him, you might hate him, but you will read him. Ian McEwan is an author with a long list of odd and interesting books to his credit: his recent Nutshell (2016) is just one example—a modern-day Hamlet told from the vantage point of the fetus carried by its mother, Gertrude.

The Cockroach (2019) is McEwan's latest offering. Weighing in at 100 pages, this is a satirical novella about a fictional (?) U. K. Prime Minister showing his true colors by becoming a cockroach during the Brexit debacle. Though based
Jose  Rodriguez
I was very surprised to see a second novel (actually novella) by Ian McEwan this year. I tried to avoid glimpses of bad reviews out there. Well, I agree, this is probably the worst McEwan novel I have read. Although very well written, it is a poorly veiled allegory of our times, with Brexit in the UK and overall greatness in the US, led by Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, I found the whole approach infantile, and what seemed at first a clever idea ended up not being sustainable .

The p
Nicolas Chinardet
Reading this short novella provided a pleasurable extra dash of Schadenfreude, as the third designated day for the UK's departure from the EU came and went. For the text is very openly a satire of the Brexit process.

McEwan's premise, I think, was to ask himself who would profit from the implementation of highly destructive policies. He answer was cockroaches, who thrive when human society embraces darkness, as the protagonist puts it at the end of the book. "Where they have embraced poverty, fi
Bhaskar Thakuria
For the last couple of years, and in his last crop of novels, Ian McEwan had passed off as a writer trying hard to impress and lay claim to one of those superlative adjectives that had come to designate 'the most impressive novelists of his generation'. But in this one, as in novels of the latter period like Solar and Nutshell, he strives too hard to impress his readers only to fail miserably in the process. The novella really failed to impress me in its bizarre farrago of a Kafkaesque nightmare and a brazen ...more
Oct 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
Not good. The jokes aren't funny, and the political critique is condescending. For example, a paragraph is spent dissecting the tweets of a Donald Trump stand-in, pointing out to the reader how he uses simplistic moral language ('BAD') and ends with an explanation mark. How incisive and zeitgeist-y! The book is full of 'insights' like this.

A core problem is that McEwan's stand-in for Brexit is something completely absurd. McEwan clearly thinks the idea of leaving the EU is ridiculous
Jason Wilson
Sep 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Around this time last century, Frank Kafka published one of the most iconic short stories ever written, in which a man becomes a beetle, symbolising the at people could be seen as burdensome vermin when their earning power was gone. It’s funny and heartbreaking and as a late teen I adored Kafka.

Mcewan’s take on this is that a cockroach becomes.....Prime Minister. Not only is he PM in terms of economic and Brexitian reversalism but his cabinet appear to be becoming cockroaches as a result of the
Tammam Aloudat
This book has a great idea to start with, when I read the first line I thought it was a copy of Kafka's metamorphosis, but a few lines after and I realised that it is a reversal of it. A simple brilliant idea to write a little novella about.

The downside of it is that it is a bit too straight forward after the initial idea strikes. The metaphors are a little too direct and the parallels are straightforward. Boris Johnson is instantly recognisable in Jim Sams and Brexit in reversalims
Nov 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This is an amusing little political parody based on the Prime Minister of Britain turning into a cockroach. He wants to push through a program called Reversalism, which is an economic system whereby people pay to go to work but get paid for shopping. It's very funny and short. I got a kick out of it.
Jennifer Norman
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a truly genius piece of writing and satire for our present political predicament. I would recommend that Remainers in particular should read this book and most certainly before October 31st 2019.
J.D. DeHart
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ian McEwan takes Kafka’s Metamorphosis and transports the notion to modern times with hilarious and witty results. McEwan writes beautifully even when his subject is not as lovely, and packs loads of observation and humor in these hundred pages. Well worth the read, this work goes even further in solidifying McEwan as a literary star. Thank you to the publisher for providing a review copy.
Oct 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Throwaway stuff by a major writer.
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English Translati...: Ian McEwan - The Cockroach - England 1 7 Oct 03, 2019 10:12AM  

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Ian McEwan studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970 and later received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987
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