The most striking example comes near the end of the book when the narrator recalls an earlier experience in the host country: Here, as the quotation above suggests, stable identities become unstable, ambiguous, and beyond traditional categories of definition. His grandiose register is completely at odds with the unappealing, unaesthetic action that he describes — the scene is aestheticized to the point of making it ridiculous, signalling that it is the symbolism of the experience that matters to these privileged Montrealers. The entire novel, in fact, can be read as a prolonged quest for food in a compromised space with limited resources as its narrator must find new and creative ways of acquiring sustenance day after day. But the last time I had tried this, it took two minutes for the police to come and ask me why I was on the roof. Oxford University Press, Don Mills,

Are we also deceived? Notify me of new comments via email. He makes his awareness of his influence on his environment evident, stating that he has no desire to become an invasive species himself: The prospect of listening to songs performed on a traditional Iranian instrument is simply too tempting: For them, consuming a meal is not about satiating hunger or meeting a basic human need but about participating in an aesthetic experience. This sentence clearly illustrates that the taste or quality of a meal matters very little to the narrator; it is simply the fact that he can satiate his hunger with it that gives it value in his eyes. And so are we.

Notify me of new posts via email. His fixation on food and his anxiety about waste are not framed in ethical terms, nor does he exclude himself from his occkroach of human arrogance and wastefulness. Mridula Nath Chakraborty discusses this phenomenon in terms of immigrant writers and argues: The esxay to fully accept either identity is reinforced by the namelessness that marks both the narrator and his country of origin — a familiar convention of postmodern and contemporary Canadian literature.


Cockroach by Rawi Hage – Archaeologies of the Weird

Take the following as a metaphor for his desire to escape the trials of the immigrant experience: Well, here people do not look at each other from their roofs. The poor one is greedy. They are obsessive about masking their humanity, their dung, their droppings, their sweat, their curved toenails that grow and never stop growing. Look at you, human, all dressed up.

cockroach rawi hage essay

The talking cockroach says to the narrator: I argue, however, that the novel does cofkroach the concept of the liminal space covkroach human and cockroach as a space of possibility for the immigrant.

World Literature Yage, vol. His speaker lives among and even communes hags cockroaches, and he recognizes his shared animality with them, extending his own concern with food and water scarcity to the non-human beings that share his home. Vintage Books, Toronto, Cancel reply Enter your comment here Indeed, throughout the novel, the protagonist works at two exclusive restaurants, and therefore he too contributes to the waste of food and water, to the superficial and uncritical approach to consumption that he satirizes In the Nature of Cities: Hage certainly forces human hunger to share the spotlight with non-human hunger, so reading the novel with specific attention to metaphorical consumption and the way that it informs human social hierarchies is rather limiting.

Cockroach suggests, though, that the narrator is not entirely caught between being an assimilated Canadian and retaining his cultural identity.

In the background we hear about his former life in Beirut: Potential Collaborators for a Liveable Earth. It may depend on your political views or moral expectations, paraphrasing Rawi Hage during the Concordia event, but the narrator is funny, witty, and can get away with anything.


You must be logged in to post a comment. Indeed, when critics do refer to a scene in which food is being consumed, they focus not on the actual act of consumption but on its metaphorical significance in the text. That passage may make Cockroach sound more like a morose screed than a story, but Hage moves deftly from these dark and sometimes comical philosophical asides to encounters and action.


The Political Ecology of Urban Hunger. By Petra Sapun Kurtin. The narrator might not articulate it in so many words, but his use of language signals his recognition of the way that consumption practices are linked to class and cultural background.

Cockroach by Rawi Hage

The book makes us implicitly aware that any desire for a dramatic change in the stable social order will also be dependent on that very same social order in order for that change to occur. Recycling and ethically appropriate environmental action might not concern him per se, but his own experiences of water shortages make him particularly aware of privileged consumption habits and their effects on thinking about the use of natural resources Still, the past is all in the past.

Skip to content Having attempted to hang himself from a tree, the unnamed narrator of Cockroach must meet with a psychiatrist after his release from a state-run clinic.

cockroach rawi hage essay

And so are we. Everything comports with the narrative psyche.

cockroach rawi hage essay

Take the following as a metaphor for his desire to escape the trials of the immigrant experience:. To advance a more critical approach to consumption and to human-non-human relationships in contemporary environments, it is therefore useful to analyze the materiality of hunger esszy Cockroach.