As World War I began, Gregor Samsa, a good man turned-roach, burst into the world, and literature has never been the same. Kafka’s 1915 Metamorphosis was a long short story, with an unhappy beginning, middle, and end.
In Kafka’s Roach, Estrin (along with the Samsa’s housemaid) has rescued Gregor from his dusty death under a couch in Prague, schooled him at a Viennese sideshow, and impelled him over the Atlantic to take a crucial role in American history in the twenties, thirties and forties.
Gregor (six feet tall, and an ever-improving speaker of English) becomes part of FDR’s brain trust, living in the White House kitchen until he is sent out to Los Alamos as the risk manager for the Manhattan Project. His life ends under the bomb tower at the Trinity test, melted into the New Mexico sands.