The intricate nature of the cross-town journey in Rawi Hage's Cockroach

Title: The intricate nature of the cross-town journey in Rawi Hage's Cockroach
Variant title:
  • La nature compliquée du voyage à travers la ville dans Cockroach de Rawi Hage
Author: Molnár, Judit
Source document: The Central European journal of Canadian studies. 2014, vol. 9, iss. [1], pp. 59-71
  • ISSN
    1213-7715 (print)
    2336-4556 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license
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My intention is to explore the unnamed protagonist's search in Rawi Hage's Cockroach for cultural acceptability in North America as he positions himself in a psychic trip in Montreal's underground world. The Montreal that is "infested with newcomers" is seen through the existential exploration of the immigrant's life as he tries to situate himself in liminal spaces, be they geographic, linguistic, cultural, religious or sexual. In the novel, the spaces under and above the ground support or defy each other in their own idiosyncratic ways, with hope, survival and an ambiguous kind of displacement existing side by side. I focus on how the story unfolds through different places and maneuvers in a cryptic space of displacement. The narrative shifts between multilayered cinematic scenes suggesting the existence of a metropolis (Montreal) that is transformed into an alien example of a topography filled with phantasmagorical elements. My aim is to disclose the novel's spatial and spacious dimensions, trusting that it can add to the understanding of the literary immigrant's imaginary text.
Dans la présente contribution, nous nous proposons d'étudier la quête de son acceptabilité culturelle en Amérique du Nord par le protagoniste anonyme de Cockroach par Rawi Hage, qui se positionne dans un voyage psychique à travers le monde souterrain de Montréal. Le Montréal qui est « envahi de nouveaux-venus » est vu à travers l'exploration existentielle de la vie d'immigré, cet immigré essayant de se situer dans des espaces à caractère liminal, qu'ils soient géographiques, linguistiques, culturels, religieux ou sexuels. Dans le roman, les espaces en-dessous et au-dessus du sol se soutiennent ou se défient mutuellement, à leurs manières idiosyncrasiques, où coexistent l'espoir, la survie et une sorte de déplacement ambigu. Nous montrerons comment l'histoire se déroule à travers différents lieux et manśuvres dans un espace cryptique de déplacement. La narration oscille entre des scènes cinématographiques ayant des couches multiples, ce qui suggère l'existence d'une métropole (Montréal) qui est transformée en un exemple de topographie aliénée, remplie d'éléments fantasmagoriques. Il s'agit ici de dévoiler les dimensions spatiales et spacieuses du roman, dans l'espoir que cela peut contribuer à une compréhension plus profonde du texte imaginaire de l'immigré littéraire.
Research for this article was funded by TÁMOP 4.2.2/B-10/1-2010-0024, as part of the new Széchenyi Plan, and by a Faculty Research Grant given by the International Council for Canadian Studies, 2012.
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