Ian McEwan is releasing a new novella at the end of this month, a “biting political satire” on Brexit about a man’s metamorphosis into the Prime Minister, hellbent on carrying out the will of the people.
The Cockroach will be published by Jonathan Cape on 27th September in paperback.
Playing with the classic Kafka story, the book follows Jim Sams, a man who was “ignored or loathed" in his previous life but wakes up to discover he is PM. “It is his mission to carry out the will of the people,” the synopsis explains. “Nothing must get in his way: not the opposition, nor the dissenters within his own party. Not even the rules of parliamentary democracy.”
McEwan explained: “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 place 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.”
Dan Franklin, associate publisher, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights, excluding Canada, from Peter Straus at RCW.
He said: “I can’t think of any other writer who could carry off such a plot with so much conviction and panache.”