The Roaches Have No King

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

Check Price Now


American Animals Currently Reading Favorites Fiction Humor Kindle My Books On To Read

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

Cameron Casey

Hilaross. I combined hilarious and gross because this book is both. It is almost always disgusting, but so creative and possibly cerebral, assuming you enjoy roach humor and very graphic descriptions of everything. Told from the roach persepctive; an objective view at human beings and an imaginative take on roach life. Weiss knows how to tell an interesting story.Amazing. Interesting. Disgusting. Creative. I cannot possibly warn and suggest this book enough.


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.

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.


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.

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.

Bonnie Fazio

I read this in 1994, but can't find an edition from that year (or earlier than this one). I liked it a lot. I'd been reading a bunch of dross before this, so maybe my standards were low...but I thought it was pretty clever. It WAS, however, 10 years ago. So take this with a grain of salt.


Some wonderfully philosophical observations of the human psyche told from the point of view of a cockroach, completely undermined by overly crass and unnecessarily disgusting parts. This often makes the points he makes seem flippant, losing the impact they may have had.One part in particular near the end that I won't go into was very harrowing.Not for the faint hearted...or even people not normally offended. I've got a strong stomach but often felt squeamish reading it in public.

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.

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.

Yanfang Chen

Read at your own risk, especially if you like those alien invasion fiction. Weiss' books are always philosophical, psychological and intensely sexual – more than vanilla.Watch out for Daniel Evan Weiss' new book that's coming out in April 2013 – "The Magic of Middle-Aged Women". Blog on author site; and on Facebook.


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...


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 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.


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.


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?

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *