Cockroach by Rawi Hage


Rawi Hage

Cockroach takes the reader on a surrealist and nightmarish journey through the Montreal underworld. A small time crook in exile from his Middle Eastern homeland attempts suicide and is forced into therapy. Surviving by leaching off others, he is plagued by hallucinations that he is half cockroach. It's filled with startling imagery and rich metaphor exploring the darker side of human life.

I opened my eyes in the dark and looked at the ceiling. I amused myself by imagining that I was colouring the flat obscure roof above me with school pencils, making clouds and bright suns. All that is empty in the drawing should be filled in, the teacher said to us kids. First you sharpen the pencil to fill in the thin whiskers, then you use the thick crayon to fill in the wings with brown, meticulously and without letting the crayon leave the page. Six feet can be traced below the soft belly. Now breathing is hard to detect on paper, the teacher said to me when I asked, but it is easier to feel it in real life. Even insects breathe. So I stretched my fingers from underneath the sheets and laid them on Shohreh's chest. Her half coloured wings turned and fluttered and she quickly slipped to the other side of the bed. So instead I looked for the thickest pen available, held it, and jerked it until it burst and spilled on my lap, and my teacher came and slapped my hands and sent me to the dark corner of the room.
  • Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
  • Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • De Niro's Game by Rawi Hage
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Explicit sexual content