Ron Charles Recommends

“I’ve waited and waited for Marc Estrin’s Insect Dreams to become a cult classic on college campuses, but it hasn’t happened – yet,” Charles says. “In this touching, weirdly funny historical novel, poor Gregor – the human-cockroach from Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis – witnesses the great developments and tragedies of the first half of the 20th century. After escaping the Nazis, he scurries from the Scopes trial to Los Alamos, from the Japanese internment camps to the White House. Everywhere, he’s omnivorously attentive, his antennae sensitive to the pheromones of beauty and cruelty passing around him. It’s the kind of book from which one wakes clutching surreal scenes, desperate to tell others, delighted and baffled and horrified.”

Ron Charles is the book editor for the Christian Science Monitor and a board member of the National Book Critics Circle.