• Cockroach by Ian McEwan

The Cockroach is a novella in which the main character, Jim Sams, undergoes a metamorphosis from an average nobody to the most powerful man in Britain when he wakes up to find himself the Prime Minister. Sams’ mission? To carry out the will of the people, no matter what - or whom - gets in his way.

Ian McEwan says: As the nation tears itself apart, constitutional norms are set aside, parliament is closed down so that the government cannot be challenged at a crucial time and ministers lie about it shamelessly in the old Soviet style, and when many Brexiters in high places seem to crave the economic catastrophe of a no deal, and English national extremists are attacking the police in Parliament Square, a writer is bound to ask what he or she can do. There’s only one answer: write. The Cockroach is a political satire in an old tradition. Mockery might be a therapeutic response, though it’s hardly a solution. But a reckless, self-harming, ugly and alien spirit has entered the minds of certain politicians and newspaper proprietors. They lie to their supporters. They express contempt for judges and the rule and norms of law. They seem to want to achieve their ends by means of chaos. What’s got into them? A cockroach or two, I suspect.

The Cockroach is published on 27 September 2019 by Jonathan Cape in the UK and later in the US and Canada.

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Last Update: 27 September 2018

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