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Cockroach

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  2,526 Ratings  ·  289 Reviews
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 fro ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published October 12th 2009 by W. W. Norton Company (first published September 1st 2008)
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Xan No problem! We discussed that the therapist was a problematic character, not exactly competent at her job. I think we concluded that either she didn't…moreNo problem! We discussed that the therapist was a problematic character, not exactly competent at her job. I think we concluded that either she didn't know definitively or couldn't prove that the narrator had broken into her home. (less)
Jessika Malo
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Community Reviews

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Neva
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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, quite 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 one.

A spoilerish P.S. Still, I'd take away half
...more
Corey
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 recipe.

The 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.
...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
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 more 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 ...more
Steven Teasdale
Rawi Hage’s second novel Cockroach takes place during a frigid Montreal winter and details the picaresque 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 book.

There
...more
Anne
Apr 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 underground/overground story layers really worked for me. Highly recommended. Also, funny as hell.
Shane
Jun 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 nation.

There 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
...more
Carly Svamvour
Mar 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, I completed the book yesterday afternoon and attended the discussion at the library last night.

We had a good turnout there, more than expected, the weather being cold and wet.

Feelings 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 people.

Protag . . . and nobody can figure out what his name is - feels sorry for himself due to his 'p
...more
Hoda Marmar
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, leeches,...
I 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 au
...more
Samar Barakat
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 realiti ...more
Laleh
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark, cold, unsettling, and yet familiar; the half-cockroach narrator of the book feels real. He is haunted by his past though he does not admit it. He reveals his story through conversations with a therapist. He stalks and steals and hallucinates, and drags the reader with himself the entire time.

I enjoyed the passages where he talks about his cockroach side, especially where he followed a couple, entered their house and then inside their dreams.

I don't think this book has any resemblance with
...more
Antonia
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


A couple of details here, like the main character being a Lebanese immigrant in Montreal and have gone through traumatized past of civil war and domestic violence, reminded me of my favourite Denis Villeneuve film “Incendies”. Needless to say, the common grounds are approached entirely different by both creators. While the film director’s efforts are concentrated almost entirely in retrospectively exposing the past of his character and involving the viewer more into the regional conflict, Rawi H
...more
Etienne
Sep 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pas du tout aimé ce roman qui apporte bien peu au niveau de l'histoire et dont le style est assez terne, hormis quelques éclats de génies ici et là, mais trop rare pour sauver la mise. Grosse déception!
Loraine
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel feels true. It happens in my city but it is not of my culture, and yet the author put me right in there, experiencing the struggle to survive. I felt the empty belly of having no food, no money and nowhere to turn when you are hungry and cold. I felt the total alienation from the mainstream, the hierarchy within the immigrant community, the weight of emotional baggage that an immigrant may bring with him. Canada, land of welcoming arms and opportunity? Oh, yeah? Maybe if you come with ...more
Creative
Mar 13, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
اذا كان من الممكن اطلاق صفة انسانية على هذه الرواية فهي ثقيلة دم...الترجمة لم تكن سلسة والقصة غريبة بغباء والسرد مبعثر لايوصلنا لهدف معين ..بنهاية المطاف نصل لنفس نقطة البداية..مهاجر مختل عقليا ابتدأ بالقاع وسيظل بالقاع ..حاسد حاقد على كل من يعيش افضل منه وبنفس الوقت لايريد ان يغير من حاله..مستمتع بكونه صرصار..رواية مقرفة احسستني بقذارة بطل الرواية وان كان هذا هو هدف الكاتب فقد نجح بجدارة
Janet Berkman
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Janet by: Heard Hage read at IFOA 2012
Shelves: canadian
Hage's writing never fails to seduce. His protagonist is not particularly appealing in the usual way, but I began to care for him even as he stumbles through life, seemingly unable to have normal relationships with those around him. Much of the novel takes place in a Montreal winter and our immigrant cockroach avoids the sun, stumbles along the frigid streets, bumming cigarettes and food, and stealing. He is (I believe) unnamed in the novel.

So why did I care?

Because there is some damaged core to
...more
L
Apr 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First, you will care about Cockroach (in truth, no name is given, but he sometimes envisions himself as a cockroach), despite his B & E, his theft, and his less than attractive habits. This is a story of emigres in Montreal. One of the cover blurbs refers to the tale as a "hypnotic journey, taking us to the dark and mad underside of exile." Another refers to this as a "Dostoevskian fable, which lowers the reader into the sewers of immigrant Montreal to confront an underground world teeming w ...more
Heather(Gibby)
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 more interesting than his own thoughts. He is someone who is marginalized by society, and one of those whom many would not even noti ...more
R.f.k
Mar 06, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
تائة لبناني مهاجر لكندا محمل معة الالآم وفجوعات الحرب الاهلية اللبنانية
يتسكع في كندا مع مهاجرين إيرانيين بعضهم سجن وعذب في ثورة الخميني والبعض الاخر فقد
أقربائه بالتصفيه في تلك الثورة الدينية...يجتمع هولاء التائهون المناضلون سابقاً في بلدانهم في كندا
في هموم وضياع مشترك...يقول احد المهاجرين الايرانيين في أقتباس اعجبني
تعرف أن هذه البلدان التي نعيش فيها تحكي عن الديمقراطية,لكنها لاتريد ديمقراطية.تريد دكتاتوريين فقط.من الأسهل عليها التعاطي مع
دكتاتوريين بدلاًمن الديمقراطية في البلدان التي جئنا منها,ح
...more
Josie
May 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the 2nd book I have read by this author, and I have to say I enjoyed this much more than the 1st book De Niro's Game
I enjoyed the flow of the story, and simplistic-ness of the book's characters.
I had read somewhere that this was a follow on story of De Niro's Game, and though it contains many of the same themes, I didn't think that it was.
Once again, it was a very abrupt ending.
Set in Montreal, I can count this book as a read for #QuebecReads2015
Indigo Wayworth
This made me more uncomfortable than I wish to discuss.

Read for ENGL 3271: Contemporary Canadian Literature
Dave
Nov 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, fiction
Rawi Hage’s second novel “Cockroach” is an absorbing story, told through the eyes of Lebanese immigrant living in Montreal. The unnamed narrator (fittingly unnamed as one would not name a cockroach) is the anti-hero of this tale of survival without hope, which takes place during a extremely harsh winter in Montreal, a city known more for beauty than the lowlife activity which occurs in this story. The narrator associates himself with cockroaches, an association that started with an innocent earl ...more
Dawed
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sila-2015
رواية الصرصار / راوي حاج
لقائي التاني معه الأول كان مع رواية لعبة دينيرو
- مهاجر لبناني في مونريال يعيش مشكلات نفسية جسدها في محاولة انتحار فاشلة ، ادخل على اثرها في برنامج علاج نفسي مع دكتورة متخصصة يحترف في سرد قصص و أحداث مريبة وغريبةعن حياته السابقة في لبنان ،امه ،اخته ،سرقاته ،محاولة ارتكاب جريمة قتل ...كل ذلك بأسلوب ساحرليرى تحليلات الاخصائية النفسية و هي بين التشكيك و التصديق لقصصه .
- يغوص في عالم المهاجرين فهو منهم أغلبهم قرر الهجرة قسرا هروبا او نفيا اغلب من خالطهم ايرانيون (شوهره الجمي
...more
A.J.
Rawi Hage has said that he writes without a plan. He's not one for detailed outlines; instead, he writes himself into a situation and then turns around and writes his way back out of it. And this approach is evident in his novels.

De Niro's Game was a two-part novel in three parts: Hage seemed not to notice that he had already reached a plausible conclusion, and tacked on a contrived plot to bring things to a close. And it felt contrived, improbable, implausible, as we went from being just some k
...more
Tina
Nov 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about justice or perhaps revenge, though you wouldn't think so from the start. At first I wasn't sure what to think about the novel and I didn't like it at first. From the book jacket it sounded like a story about a weird loner, but that isn't what the narrator is at all, well, at least not in the way I was hoping for. The first third of the book was depressing, bleak, and seems to go nowhere, but the author has this way of drawing you into the narrator's life, making you want to ...more
Teresa Mills-clark
Just to qualify, there was a time part way through the book that I thought I didn't want to invest any more of my time reading it. But, I persisted, mainly because it was one of the Canada Reads picks for 2014.

My preconception of the book was that the character would be identifiable in the "there but for the grace of God go I" and I could gain empathy for the refugee/immigrant plight. How narrow minded and naive of me. The book was unsettling and yet by the end I could appreciate how very well
...more
Patrick O'Neil
Nov 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a cool interesting story in Rawi Hage's Cockroach. His underlining premise in regards to immigration and the starting over of uprooted displaced people. Of what someone fleeing political persecution, or those that grew up in an urban wartime battlefield bring with them to the new country. How being ill prepared to exist, emotionally damaged, as well as being unwanted in this alien environment could possibly raise comparison to common household bugs that people tend to dislike, yet somewh ...more
CanadAnn
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
The author definitely has a good grasp of language and is quite skilled with the art of description, but I found the story to be extremely fractured and choppy. I had a hard time finding any kind of sequential order to the plot. Perhaps this is what the author intended in order to illustrate the mental state of the unnamed main character, who was in therapy for a suicide attempt that was triggered by what, surely must have been either PTSD, from his years in war-torn Iran, or by his struggle wit ...more
Megan
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"You know, we come to these countries for refuge and to find better lives, but it is these countries that made us leave our homes in the first place.... these countries we live in talk about democracy but they do not want democracy. They only want dictators. It is easier for them to deal with dictators than to have democracy in the countries we came from. I fought for democracy. I was tortured for democracy."

This passage stands out the most for me. This book is a powerful look into the life of a
...more
Dan
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
a really enjoyable, snarky-but-not-misanthropic satire of multiculturalism and poverty in montreal. the rambling narrative follows a troubled, brutally honest, occasionally hilarious arab immigrant who has recently attempted suicide. we watch him as he attends therapy sessions, strong-arms his friends out of money, washes dishes, breaks into multiple apartments and eventually falls in love. for its first two thirds, cockroach maintains two contradictory accomplishments - in one sense, it's an ex ...more
Laura
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Following an impoverished Lebanese immigrant in frigid Montreal, Rawi Hage's "Cockroach" is a grim story of survival, trauma, and life underground. I wanted to like this book more than I did. The narrator is a suicidal thief who fantasizes and halluncinates that he is a cockroach. The bleak writing is effectively dirty and unsettling, but the plot's payoffs don't appear until far too late in the novel for them to hold my attention. The objective of "Cockroach" is clearly not to entertain, but co ...more
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Cockroach - Book Review 1 7 Jan 09, 2015 04:33PM  
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185233
Rawi Hage is a Lebanese Canadian writer and photographer.

Born in Beirut, Hage grew up in Lebanon and Cyprus. He moved to New York City in 1982, and after studying at the New York Institute of Photography, relocated to Montreal in 1991, where he studied arts at Dawson College and Concordia University. He subsequently began exhibiting as a photographer, and has had works acquired by the Canadian Mus
...more
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“My steps were muffled. It was quiet, so quiet that I felt as if I did not walk but instead crawled in silence. The snow covered everthing and I walked above cotton, on silent carpets, on beach sand. Softness is temporary and deceiving. It gently receives you and gently expels you.” 5 likes
“I waited, hesitant to go out into the cold again. It was one of those days that have no mercy on your toes, that are oblivious to the suffering of your ears, that are mean and determined to take a chunk of your nose. It was a day to remind you that you can shiver all you want, sniff all you want, the universe is still oblivious. And if you ask why the inhumane temperature, the universe will answer you with tight lips and a cold tone and tell you to go back where you came from if you do not like it here.” 3 likes
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