Rawi Hage was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and lived through nine years of the Lebanese civil war during the 1970s and 1980s. He emigrated to Canada in 1992 and now lives in Montreal. His first novel, De Niro's Game, won the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for the best English-language book published anywhere in the world in a given year, and has either won or been shortlisted for seven other major awards and prizes. Cockroach was the winner of the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction and a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Awards. It was also shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Award and the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
With a surprising degree of humor, Hage's second novel (after IMPAC Dublin-winner DeNiro's Game) explores the peculiar politics of Montreal's immigrant communities through the bleak obsessions of a misanthropic thief. After trying and failing to kill himself, an unnamed narrator who believes himself to be part cockroach is compelled to attend counseling sessions with an earnest and alluring therapist. As he unspools his personal history-from his apprenticeship with the thief Abou-Roro to the tragic miscalculation that led him to flee his home country-the narrator, reluctant to tell his story (we never learn where the narrator is from, and inconsistencies in his tale cast doubt upon his honesty), scuttles through the stories of others, recounting secrets both confidentially shared and invasively discovered. Unable to support himself on burglary alone, the narrator takes a job as a busboy, but runs into complications after discovering his lover's connection to the restaurant's most prominent customer. The novel's gritty back-alley world gives rise to a host of glorious rogues, each swindling the others at every opportunity, and yet each is capable of great empathy under just the right circumstances. (Oct.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Gripping. A humane and compassionate storyteller * New Statesman *
Beautifully paced, filled with picaresque wit and misadventure, anchored by a dark and uncompromising vision . . . Rawi Hage has joined the great pantheon of Canadian writers whose work we read with admiration and excitement -- Colm Toibin
Compelling, intriguing, deceptive * Financial Times *
Further evidence of Hage's large and unsettling talent * Guardian *