Monday, August 14, 2006


Title: The Roaches Have No King
Author: Daniel Evan Weiss
Publisher: Sceptre

Numbers is a young cockroach. Part of a generation of roaches in Ira's flat that was born in easy times. His mother gave birth to him and his fellows in the bookcase, so that they could sup upon the fine cream of book paste. Numbers devoured the bible, taking in what it had to say about man as he ate. However the good times are not forever, and when Ira gets a new girlfriend he makes some changes to the flat. The new kitchen and new cleanliness suddenly make living hard.

While the rest of the roach colony is content to live from scrap to scrap, Numbers is determined to see a return to yesterday's paradise. The best way to do that he feels is to break Ira and his girlfriend up. Thus strange things happen around Ira's flat - things are moved to provoke fights; situations are contrived to drive Ira towards his neighbour's wife; Numbers even goes in search of Ira's wild ex in the hope that she would leave his new girlfriend in the dust.

Published originally in 1994, one has to assume that The Roaches Have No King had some kind of influence on the film Joe's Apartment, which also had the interaction of roaches and man in a New York apartment. The novel is darkly funny in places, the world seen from a roach's viewpoint, the lengths that Numbers goes to have his way. On the other hand it is also a little gruesome, some of the places that the roaches get to and the way they invade human space has to make the human reader squirm a little.

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