The unnamed narrator of Cockroach is a refugee from an unspecified country in the Middle East, living in poverty in Montreal during a frigid winter. After he fails in a suicide attempt, he is forced to attend sessions with a therapist to address his depression. He tells her stories of his life — but is he telling the truth, or just what he imagines she wants to hear about the war-torn country he comes from? Urgent and unsettling, Cockroach challenges the conventional "immigrant story" of striving and achievement, and portrays those who live on the margins of society with visceral power.
In 2008, Cockroach was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General's Literary Award.
Cockroach was defended by Samantha Bee on Canada Reads 2014.
I waited, hesitant to go out into the cold again. It was one of those days that have no mercy on your toes, that are oblivious to the suffering of your ears, that are mean and determined to take a chunk of your nose. It was a day to remind you that you can shiver all you want, sniff all you want, the universe is still oblivious. And if you ask why the inhumane temperature, the universe will answer you with tight lips and a cold tone and tell you to go back where you came from if you do not like it here.
From Cockroach by Rawi Hage ©2008. Published by House of Anansi Press.