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


This is no 'Metamorphosis' ('Die Verwandlung') with laughs. A herd, bunch , flock, mob (not sure what the collective noun is) of Cockroaches achieve some sort of human understanding by eating through the contents of a book case. Some of them take on human characteristics of the authors or characters of these books but they are still roaches with no real understanding of human behavior. The protagonist roach is called Numbers. He tries to manipulate the humans of the apartment into becoming more cockroach friendly. So the book is based around why humans are so stupidly non roach in their behaviours. A premise that could be rich with humour. But unfortunately it is not. There are far too many flat gross out jokes. Nothing wrong with that except it they are not funny.Numbers just does not observe humans he passes comment on each particular human he meets. This is where the novel has some dark underpinings. In numbers opinion liberal Jews are weak flabby self haters who will be gobbled up the darker more dynamic races. Afro-Americans are mostly welfare queens and/or drug pushers. WASPs are narrow white bread master race bores. Gypsies are dirty as well as Italians. This sort of humour is defensible if we have an Archie Bunker or Alf Garnnet character who gets his comeuppance for being an ignorant racist. We do not get this here, it is just a roach commentary that sounds awfully proto-fascist. Numbers supposedly gets away with it because he a roach after all. But can the author really get away with this sort of humour? Not really in my opinion.

Ash Lewis

Finally, something different! The world through a roach's perspective. While the concept of this book intrigued me and kept me gripped, I found myself often confused by where this book was going. Many of the scenes depicted in it were quite bizarre. That, of course, being far from a complaint. Numbers, the narrator, is quite the clever little roach. He is very intelligent, and yet, he doesn't do something that was so drastically important to the lives of the citizens in his colony; just moving the bills from the hole in the cabinet. While this book did lack in some areas, it made up for it in others. In short, I enjoyed this book.

Emily Mellow

I kind of hated this book. I was halfway through it before the racism, sexism, and raunchiness really got to me. But, the story was interesting enough that I finished the book. I don't recommend it. Unless you love William Burroughs. It's not that far out, but the intelligent cockroaches and general grodiness had me thinking along those lines.


Le narrateur de ce livre s'appelle Nombres. Il est né dans une bibliothèque de New York et appartient à l'espèce des dictyoptères, famille des blattellae germanicae, en français, les cafards. Nombres et ses compagnons vivent heureux dans l'appartement d'Ira et de la Gitane, quand celle-ci, excellente cuisinière mais souillon de première, décide de quitter le domicile conjugal. Elle est remplacée par Ruth, qui fait de l'ordre une religion et qui laisse subitement affamée la colonie des blattes par un excès de propreté. Comment Nombres parviendra-t-il à conjurer cette malédiction ? C'est tout le propos de ce livre irrévérencieux, profondément « politically incorrect » et subversif qui, sous les apparences d'une fable métaphysique et animalière, donne une critique virulente, méchante et savoureuse de la vie urbaine. Méfions-nous : les cafards sont bien plus vieux que les hommes et ils le savent


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.

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.


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...

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 :(

Martina Hava

I like the author. He is intelligent, funny, witty actually, and he has an amazing vocabulary, far superior to that found in, for example Harlequin Books. His writing addresses intelligent, educated people.After finishing The Magic of Middle-Aged Women, I was looking for another book from the same author.The Roaches Have No King was compared to Kafka’s Metamorphoses. It is not comparable. I think Daniel Weiss’ book is far better. Similar in theme, creating a bug’s world that is humanized, I feel The Roaches Have No King is far better, more up to date and really, really funny.One afternoon I and my boyfriend were reading. He was reading his Sunday paper. I was reading The Roaches Have No King. Every two minutes I would burst into uncontrolled laughter. My companion looked up from his paper and asked “What is so funny?” I started reading him the passages that had caused me to laugh. He has decided he will probably read The Roaches Have No King, and possibly other books written by Daniel Weiss. As my boyfriend said; Daniel Evan Weiss is a good writer, really funny, witty, with a very wide, excellent vocabulary. I am almost tempted to compare him to Shakespeare based on his skilful use of the English language. Daniel Weiss has a somewhat twisted mind as well; most of his books have an underlying sexual flavour – or are rather kinky, a behaviour or lifestyle with which he seems quite preoccupied. But hey, I had no idea that a cockroach can be kinky – and hilarious. Just read the book and you'll see what I mean. The author is totally hilarious in this book. He really unleashes his sense of humour and a great knowledge about cockroach’s anatomy including the reproductive functions of the bug.By the way, I am still laughing and so is my boyfriend.


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.


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?


This is one of the more bizarre books I've read lately, and I'm not a stranger to bizarre books. I'm not exaggerating when I say that there were a few sections in this book that I had an actual, visceral reaction to. The story is about a colony of intelligent roaches who are trying to carve out a better life for themselves by ruining the lives of the humans whose apartment they occupy. It's equally funny and unsettling, and it'll probably give you pause the next time you go to crush some insect that's strayed inside your home. But don't take MY word for it... *cue Reading Rainbow credits*


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?


Strange and interesting. I liked the concept -- cockroaches as philosophers -- but I'm not sure how long this will stay with me. This was first published in the UK as "Unnatural Selection" which I think is a better name. There are certainly plenty of unnatural occurrences in this one. Anyhow this was dirty and crazy but I liked it better than a lot of, say, Palahniuk. The seamy parts of this book were at least pretty humorous.I kept thinking about the Pearl Jam song "Rats" which pretty much is the same sort of thing : "They don't push, don't crowd / Congregate until they're much too loud / Fuck to procreate till they are dead / Drink the blood of their so-called best friend" etc. Neither one is the most amazing insight but I think the Weiss book is at least a little more complex about comparing humans and vermin.


After a while it was the same damn joke over and over again. Really bad, bad, bad.

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