Of Basement Kitchens and Filthy Lodges: Spaces in Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss and Hage’s Cockroach

Eman Theeb Qraini, Yousef Awad


This paper investigates the spaces that immigrants occupy in Kiran Desai’s novel The Inheritance of Loss (2006) and Rawi Hage’s novel Cockroach (2008). It explores the representation of menial jobs that immigrants take with low wages in ethnic restaurants; it also highlights how bourgeois compradors exploit immigrants’ vulnerabilities because they are undocumented workers. The paper also tackles the issue of immigration in the context of globalization and neoliberalism. It also aims at examining how each novelist portrays the anguishes of the two protagonists, Biju in Desai’s novel and the unnamed narrator in Hage’s novel, in the underground worlds where immigrants work and live. The paper uses Henri Lefebvre’s book The Production of Space (1974) as a reference point to examine how spaces play prominent roles in both novels. In both novels, immigrants feel alienated in multinational spaces in advanced capitalist societies. As Desai’s Biju and Hage’s unnamed narrator peregrinate around unfamiliar cities, they attempt to gain a sense of place in relation to various other places on a mental map.


Kiran Desai, Rawi Hage, Henri Lefebvre, Immigrants, Ethnic Restaurants, Compradors

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.11n.2p.28


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