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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Rawi Hage

[an overview of the reviews and critical reactions]

general information | review summaries | links | about the author

To purchase Cockroach

Title: Cockroach
Author: Rawi Hage
Genre: Novel
Written: 2008
Length: 305 pages
Availability: Cockroach - US
Cockroach - UK
Cockroach - Canada

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Why we haven't reviewed it yet:

Don't have a copy; while he seems an author worth keeping an eye on, this one seems skipable

Chances that we will review it:


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Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Financial Times . 22/6/2009 Sylvia Brownrigg
The Guardian . 23/5/2009 James Lasdun
The Telegraph . 18/6/2009 Nicholas Blincoe
The Times . 3/6/2009 Kate Saunders
TLS . 19/6/2009 Ben Jeffery

  From the Reviews:
  • "The narrator of Rawi Hage’s bleakly compelling new novel is an unhappy man. (...) Cockroach’s narrative is intriguing and deceptive, not unlike its protagonist. Periodic hallucinations that he is a giant cockroach inevitably bring Metamorphosis to mind. But the discomfort of Hage’s antihero is more Camus than Kafka " - Sylvia Brownrigg, Financial Times

  • "The risks of overkill in this kind of writing are obvious, but what would quickly pall in most other writers remains curiously invigorating in Hage. (...) Most fiction writers are primarily either stylists or plotters, but Hage is clearly both. There's a slight jolting sensation as the narrative shifts gear from poetic to cinematic, with guns and knives and elaborately contrived set-ups replacing the earlier evocations of drains and flesh and wintry streets, but it's all managed with great brio and expertise, and it all comes to a very satisfying climax." - James Lasdun, The Guardian

  • "The influence of Dostoevsky is as apparent in Cockroach as the spirit of Camus was in De Niro’s Game, but where these writers focused on murders in order to say something essential about life, Hage embraces their style rather than their themes. In his hands, existentialism becomes a mannerism; in effect, a kind of camp. Hage’s campness does not destroy the value of the work; Cockroach is a good novel. But it is an immature work from a man of 45." - Nicholas Blincoe, The Telegraph

  • "Hage writes brilliantly of the hidden lives teeming in a modern city." - Kate Saunders, The Times

  • "The novel is an agitated reading experience even at its steadiest. (...) Similes tend to come in little bursts of five or six, as though he cannot bear to confine himself to a single image. The technique is unreliable, but the energy of Hage's prose generally carries him through even when the analogies splutter. (...) The final set piece is disappointingly formulaic, though it does provide a punchy ending to a tale that might otherwise have vanished into its own haze." - Ben Jeffery, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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Cockroach: Reviews: Other books by Rawi Hage under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Rawi Hage was born in Lebanon in 1964, and emigrated to Canada in 1992.

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