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The Roaches Have No King (A Five Star Title) Paperback – December 1, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

A nasty, arch and occasionally funny novel about cockroaches- -first fiction from Weiss, author of nonfiction books 100% American and The Great Divide (not reviewed). In an unnamed city (seems like New York), Ira Fishblatt, a bleeding-heart liberal Legal Aid lawyer, is rejected by his live-in lover, The Gypsy. This is much to the dismay of the other inhabitants of Ira's place: hundreds of cockroaches with names like Bismarck, Rosa Luxemburg, and Julia Child (they were born in bookshelves), who enjoyed The Gypsy's messiness and food-throwing. After a brief despondent period, Ira meets the overweight, matronly Ruth Grubstein. Cosseted into the role of good Jewish boy, Ira goes to such lengths to please Ruth that he renovates the kitchen, forcing the kibitzing circle of Blattelae Germanicae out of their homes. The roaches, led by their ringleader Numbers, who's also the book's narrator, swear vengeance. They disrupt a dinner party of Ira and Ruth and their neighbors, the Wainscotts, by causing a blackout that, in a good bit of screwball writing, forces Ira and Elizabeth Wainscott into close quarters in the dark. But Plan A fails, and thus begins Numbers's long journey of the soul to find a more effective revenge on humankind. What follows are comically gruesome scenes described from Numbers's roachy point of view: from toilets, in Ira and Ruth's bed, in the hair of a coke dealer named Rufus, in the sewer system. Weiss's broad ethnic comedy--in dialogue between Jewish Ira, black Rufus, and old-money racist Wainscott--is bracing at first, then flattens. A well-modulated comic novel (one hesitates to say ``picaresque''), only for those with really, really wicked sensibilities. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'Woody Allen meets Kafka in this wlidly original and funny account of a cockroach consplracy...A novel to make you laugh and squirm' Observer 'The most imaginative and complex novel since Patrick Suskind's Perfume...an implausible, hilarious and beautifully written tale' Vox 'A daring original, an underground Kafka' Time Out
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Product Details

  • Series: A Five Star Title
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (December 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852427469
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852427467
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #541,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Phil on January 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
I hate roaches. Can't stand 'em. They truly do make me sick to my stomach. A new friend, however, promised consistent laughs and great writing when she gave me this novel--and she was right on target. Every morning and evening for week, I laughed out loud on the el during my commute to work. The story is clever, the characters are familiar, and the writing is top notch. The roach-narrator's point of view--whether he's perched on a kitchen cabinet, clinging to the toilet bowl, or generally assessing the past and future realities of mankind--is full of truth and humor. I loved this story, and I loved reading it. (However...I no longer stomp barefoot through my hardwood-floored Wrigleyville - Chicago apartment, and I've taken to keeping cereal, pasta, and crackers in the fridge. You may want to do the same).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books I've read in a long while. A phenomenal satire. Mr. Weiss was able to hold the proper character tone/perspective throughout the entire book, which is written, unbelievably, from a cockroach's point of view. Not for the squeemish, but for any one with an open mind, it is an EXCELLENT read!.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
I bought this book years ago, and have ended up reading it year after year. In England it was published under a different title:- Unnatural Selection, I recommend it utterly if you want to smile throughout a book. Thank God we have few roaches in this country!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Excession on September 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
While this novel may not be for everyone (be warned that there are some quite graphic descriptions of bodily functions, human sexual activity, and insect sexual activity), this is perhaps the cleverest book I've read in a very long time. It is funny, touching, and memorable.
The protagonist, a cockroach named Numbers, has big plans. He wants to get Ira Fishblatt's very messy girlfriend to come back to the apartment ... so that the plentiful food will return with her. He has a problem, though, because the strength and longevity of his species derives from their inherent lack of cooperative effort. The title is their best attribute: their selfishness is their strength.
Hilarity ensues as Numbers' plans hit a variety of snags, and I found myself rooting for this very unusual insect. It is a well-written novel, and the pages fly by. If you have the stomach for it, this makes for a different and interesting reading experience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 1996
Format: Paperback
Metamorphosis, move over. The Roaches Have No King is an
astonishing work of fiction that surveys the human condition
from the astute mindset of a resident NYC apartment
cockroach. The novel is darkly funny, full of joy and pathos
as only an chitinous insect could deliver. The author has
also written Hell On Wheels (currently available overseas,
but to be published in the USA in fall 1996), and the
upcoming The Swine's Wedding (1996). Keep an eye on this
writer; he has the observational clarity of an objective
extra-terrestrial.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. Shelton on August 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
What a wild ride! This novel breezed through with good story-telling and a very imaginitive author. Lots of heady themes for these little bugs to tackle and many eyebrow-raising situations. I think those that are squeamish around these insects will lighten up while reading but may ironically cringe more at the descriptive writings about sex and other adult themes. Think 1960's Jerry Lewis comedy written by Chuck Palahniuk and narrated by a cockroach. I'll definately look for more from this author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book expands perspective, gives a smile, and creates dark humor at its best - without bording on the macabe. The best "blind" book choice I have done in over five years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ergonomic Zester on August 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Roaches Have No King, by Daniel Evan Weiss, is a clever tale of cockroach "societal" dynamics, told from the perspective of the cockroach. Mind you, this is not a book for everyone - the "Ew Factor" is very high, especially in passages concerning the interaction between human and cockroach; some may find it downright unreadable for this reason. Even the non-squeamish will want to immediately scrub down their entire home with bleach. That said, I found it a funny, creative and involving story of roach sensibilities and their take on the world around them. The grossness isn't gratuitous - we are talking about cockroaches, aren't we?
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