Bonnie reviewed this on here, it sounded very much relevant to my interests, so I ordered it and read it in one sitting. Don’t remember the last time I did this and to be fair, Cockroach is very short, but it still felt great to do this again.
The book is Ian McEwan’s take on Kafka’s Metamorphosis, except that instead of a young depressed man turning into a beetle, a cockroach turns into a powerful buffoon, namely the British Prime Minister. This Prime Minister – Jim Sam in reference to Gregor Samsa, although McEwan pretty much names him Goris Tonson – wants to bulldoze through a change of the economic system in the UK: Reversalism, where one pays to have a job and gets paid for buying things. Yes, it makes absolutely no sense and that’s the point.
I’ve enjoyed this very much; as a mainland European with close ties to the UK, Brexit has shat on so many of my projects and plans for the future and I will forever wish the deepest circles of hell on the people who brought it on. I guess the book was even more powerful when it came out in 2019 and the 2020 clusterfuck hadn’t happened yet, but still, it makes a great farce of all the populist BS and insanity that went and still goes on in the UK media and political landscape.
I’ve seen some people criticise the story for being superficial or wishing that McEwan had taken the idea further, but you know what? I like it this way. It feels like an angry, disgusted yet creative rant by someone who can use imagery incredibly well and the joy McEwan put into describing Jim Sam’s longing to gorge himself on a pile of fresh horse shit, was shared by me. I generally love his writing style; The Cement Garden is one of my favourite books of all time and he is one of the best at sprinkling somewhat poetic wham lines through his works, this one included.
Would I recommend to buy this book? I’m not sure, it is a great story that speaks to me on a very needed level, but it hopefully will be republished in a short story/novella collection, so if you don’t want to pay for what probably amounts to 50 pages in a normal book format, that would be the better option.