The Roaches Have No King

ISBN: 1852427469
ISBN 13: 9781852427467
By: Daniel Evan Weiss

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About this book

"Dark and erotic in addition to being clever and charming. It is laced with sexual scenes so graphic I hesitate to share them with you"—New York Times Book ReviewWhen Ira Fishblatt’s girlfriend, Ruth Grubstein, moves into his apartment, he has the kitchen renovated to make her feel at home. She is tickled pink, but hundreds of other houseguests aren’t—the cockroaches who’d been living high on the hog before they were starved out. Weiss is a witty fabulist whose animals have profound things to say about the human condition.Daniel Evan Weiss’s novels include Hell On Wheels, Honk If You Love Aphrodite and The Swine’s Wedding. He lives in New York City.

Reader's Thoughts


I read this book quite a long time ago so my review might not be as fresh as some others. Nonetheless, it has stuck with me in all the years since. The authors choice of a roach for a main character is telling as he then proceeds to lay before the reader all the horrbile, ugly things that we think about each other. Their are racisms and sexisms in this book, but for me, they served the purpose of rubbing my nose in these hidden aspects of our society. The story is written with wit but it is also hard to miss the more serious elements underlying it.


I found this book at a thrift store a couple years ago, read the first couple chapters and just havent gotten around to reading the rest. I think I have to get past the grossness factor of the roaches and I'll be OK. It did not start out to be a bad book at all, and Im sure once I give it the chance it deserves, Im sure I'll be quite pleased with it. If there is anyone on here that wants to give me that little nudge I need to pick it back up, Id welcome it...


A castle of excrement - this is a genius piece of work. Magical animal blattella germanus on (literal)crack do not disappoint. Overtly comedic and always disgusting these roaches rules, fending for their lives while utilizing unholy racism and eclecticism to score the face of human history with a truly immortal primordialism. The perspective is perfect, Pixar couldn't have done a better job and the disgusting imagery is so effective that even I, man of the iron guts, was physically retching at the final revenge of Drano hotshots for the insect genocide. I learned more in this pornography about bugs than from every copy of "Ranger Rick" I've ever read put together.

Gracey Pankey

This book was, well, weird. Which was cool. I like weird. Unfortunately, it was also disturbingly gross in a lot of places and not in ways I felt added to the story; it was just gross. It also felt a little racist in places. I do think the author was trying to do something by telling this story from the POV of a roach, but got mired in his own device. Basically, unless you like weird that veers into disturbingly gross and slightly racist, I do not recommend this book.

La Stamberga dei Lettori

Ammetto di essere di gusti un po' difficili. Al ristorante sono capace di studiare il menu per un'ora prima di fare la mia scelta e lo stesso accade spesso in libreria. È raro quindi che mi ritrovi per le mani qualcosa che mi faccia proprio schifo (libri da 1 stellina, per intenderci) e quando accade, evito di parlarne perché mi hanno lasciato così poco che non saprei cosa dire. Questa volta però la delusione è stata troppo intensa e quindi ho scritto di getto questa recensione. La trama mi appariva simpatica e originale, nella quarta di copertina avevano scomodato addirittura Pennac a cantarne le lodi, il commesso della libreria me lo ha consigliato con un sorriso raggiante (ok, quello magari era solo particolarmente zelante nello svolgere le sue mansioni!) e mi sono ritrovata per le mani la più grossa delusione della mia carriera di lettrice. Continua su


I bought this book used because I needed a beach read on my vacation. The concept intrigued me - the central character is a cockroach trying to reclaim his apartment from its human occupants. It was pretty entertaining and light enough for the beach, but the depiction of black characters seemed a bit racist - I couldn't tell if it was meant to be satirical or not. Also, and I know this sounds ridiculous in a review of a book about a talking cockroach, but - some of the story didn't make sense. The internal logic was unclear. How did Numbers know about the outside world? Why didn't he just move the bills? Why do I care?

Nick Colen

This was one of the books that tought me to love contemporary fiction. Daniel Evan Weiss is one of my all time favorite authors. The NY called him "the evil kanievel of novelist" his stories are gritty to the point of being filthy but they also feature more heart and honesty than almost any of his more famous contemporaries. This book is the story of numbers, a cockroach born in the bible chapter of the same name and his struggle to understand the world the humans around him and his place in it. I read this as a teenager and couldn't help but see a lot of myself and my friends in this strange character. If you know a teen strugling to understand the world around them (especially if they like Burroughs or Bukowski then you should by this book for them. POI my first tattoo that I got was a reference to this book. It will always have a special place in my heart.


Ammetto che spesso il commento che mi veniva leggendo era "che schifo" repulsione per questi insetti è più forte di me. In molti punti però ho sorriso, alcuni episodi sono davvero divertenti. E vale la pena leggere questo libro, se non altro per il finale, del tutto inaspettato! Che dire, spero di non inimicarmi nessuno scarafaggio d'ora in poi!!Per altri commenti:


If you want an original read then I would recommend this book. It is probably quite unlike most things I have read before. The closest comparison I could make would be to Will Self's Great Apes. Both books are trying to comment on human nature by moving outside of ourselves. The basic plot is that a cockroach called Numbers wants to take over an apartment and try to manipulate the human inhabitants into making life better for him and his fellow cockroaches. Via Numbers the author makes quite an unflattering portrait of humanity. Misogyny, racism, selfishness, privilege, economics and politics are all targets in this novel. I didn't mind the racism from a characters mouth (for example, the character of Oliver is fantastically satirical in his racism) but at one point the author indulges in the trope of the hyper-sexual black woman and lazy black man which is embedded within the narrative itself. Why? It soured my enjoyment of the story and seemed quite out of place next to the more insightful and sharp observations in the text.Regardless, the book was very funny and quite dark. Some of the descriptions will make your toes curl and you read about things you have never even thought about before (and most likely probably don't want to again...especially if you are a woman). More than that, it is just a really enjoyable story. You actually find yourself identifying far more with the cockroaches than you do the humans. Perhaps that was the point.It will remain at the back of my brain for some time, I think!


This is a really frustrating book. There are quite a few fantastic moments in it. It handles the roach POV perfectly, and I really got into the way that they think and feel, they way that they worked with each other, and the general world. The main character is engaging and you really do want him to succeed. Unfortunately there are three really big problems. First, is that there are several scenes in the book where he buries critical details of action so that you either don't know or can't possibly picture what is going on. It is frustrating because there is quite a bit of physicality to the book, but then often the details that are lost will betray any sense of plausibility. Sometimes there are scenes where I know what should be happening, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out how it was being done. The destruction of the supply was a big one. I think that one of the author's biggest flaws is that he thinks that he is more clever than he is and he will intentionally hide important details in order to have you discover what is happening as the story unfolds. Sometimes it works, but many times he just misses the mark. It is unfortunate. The good thing is that this really only happens near the beginning of the book. He clearly becomes a better writer as he progresses.Second, he clearly set out to create an emotional pivot point showing how the humans are more disgusting than the roaches. This obviously is intended to make you sympathize with characters who by our nature we detest. What he doesn't account for is that anyone that needs this won't pick up a book about the life of a roach. The self selecting quality of the material will lead more open minded readers to the work. If he would just let the human characters do what they do in a normal human fashion and perhaps if he was a better writer he still could have pulled it off. Sadly, every opportunity to make humans look despicable or pathetic he does it. Everyone is a racist. Everyone is pathetic. Everyone is disgusting, a misogynistic boor, or a prude. It gets old quickly. The writing soon becomes way ham-fisted, trying to convince you how terrible people are. The dialog frequently plays out like the worst comments on YouTube. It just wasn't needed. Often times I felt that the author himself was just channeling his own racist bullshit. "I'm not racist, my characters are so I can say all this insane crap." And making the black guy specifically have a particularly small penis felt like he was unloading baggage from somewhere. It is one thing to write racists, but then at a certain point his descriptions of things just started sounding racist in their own right. Having lived in NYC in the 90's I never ran into any of this kind of BS. It's like he's writing NYC in the 70s.Third, there are a several chapters in the book that did nothing to move the story forward and were there strictly to stroke the author's 12 year old naughty side. Why were there so many pages dedicated to the roaches watching the humans go to the bathroom? This was described in vivid detail and really never presented itself as relevant to the story in any way? Because of that there is little faith going into his long winded descriptions of the humans' sexual organs in later chapters. Along with a variety of other "event" that didn't amount to any relevance to the plot. Most of it, just a lot of "poo poo, caa, caa, bloody tampons, isn't it grody" stuff. I found some of it eyerollingly exhausting and worthless, rather than it giving the gross out factor that he clearly was going for.The whole thing really is a remarkable tragedy as half the book is quite good. Had he a decent editor, we all might have had a brilliant little novella.


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. 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?

Joy Ritter

OUTSTANDING - from a roaches point of view, easy to read, went fast and was very interesting. Just cute! I lent it to someone and never saw the book again :(


This book was just okay for me. I felt that at times its desire to gross out the reader superseded any real attempt to convey a message or a story. Overall while I found the concept intriguing there was a lot of opportunity for richness (of characters, for example) that was missed out on in favor of producing a filthy world for the characters to live in.


I bought this because I was hoping it would be like Joe's Apartment would have been if Will Self had written it. It's exactly like that and it turns out that isn't a good thing.


This is very well written but strange. I probably would have never read it if it hadn't been on the shelf due to my husband. I happened to see it on our shelf and picked it up. I ended up finishing the book in one sitting although i did stay up later than I planned.I think I might have found it difficult to sleep after reading it if I lived in place where roaches are more common. The story was engaging an I found myself rooting for Number even while being disturbed by some of his actions.

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