The Cockcroach by Ian McEwan
The Cockroach, the latest work of the masterful Ian McEwan, is a dazzlingly satirical reflection of our current political climate.
“That morning, Jim Sams, clever but by no means profound, woke from uneasy dreams to find himself transformed into a gigantic creature.”
We follow the journey of Jim Sams as he navigates the British political establishment to deliver the will of the people, Reversalism. Reversalism is a theory whereby the money flow in an economy is reversed. At the conclusion of the working week an employee hands over money to the company for the hours laboured. However, when the employee then goes shopping they are compensated for each item carried away. (If you think this sounds like a convoluted process, that would inevitably damage the economy beyond repair, then you have grasped the concept of McEwan’s work.) Sams is determined to deliver Reversalism at any cost; dissent within his ranks, fierce opposition, parliamentary democracy, none will get in his way. We observe Sams as he hijacks international incidents, charms the American President, and plots against those opposing Reversalism.
McEwan achieved in this novel what I thought impossible, unearthing a humorous tone about this country’s dire political affliction. The scabrous humour masks the very real dread and scepticism coursing through society as we are pulled along with this political farce. In ‘The Cockroach’ McEwan makes no effort to mask his feelings about “Reversalism”, a detrimental decision serving only to benefit the sinister Blattidaean plot. “Reversalism” is, of course, McEwan’s mirror for Brexit. For those of us who have been, shall I say, despondent following the result of the referendum, McEwan accurately channels our feelings in this satirical masterpiece. I have found the book a welcome break after three years of debates, uncertainty and broken promises, it breathes a breath of fresh air into the chagrined political division. I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially those who are saddened by our departure from the European Union.