Firmin is the runt of a litter of rats born in the basement of Pembroke Books, a ramshackle old bookstore run by the equally shambolic owner Norman Shine. Forced to compete for food, Firmin ends up chewing on the books that surround him. Thanks to his unusual diet, he acquires the miraculous ability to read. He subsequently develops an insatiable hunger for literature and a very unratlike sense of the world and his place in it. He is a debonair soul trapped in a rat's body¿
But a literary rat is a lonely rat and, spurned by his own kind, he thinks he recognises a kindred soul in Norman. Firmin seeks solace in the Lovelies of the local burlesque cinema and in his own imagination. But the days of the bookshop and of the close community around it are numbered. The area has been marked out for urban regeneration and soon the faded glory of the bookshop, the low-life bars, loan agencies and pawn shops will face the bulldozers.
Brilliantly original and richly allegorical, Firmin is brimming with charm and wistful longing for a world that treasures its seedy theatres, one-of-a-kind characters, and cluttered bookshops.
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