A darkly comic tale of exile, unrequited love and the redemptive power of books.

Firmin is born in the basement of a ramshackle old bookstore. He’s a sensitive, creative soul but misunderstood. Because Firmin is a rat. Not only that, but as the runt of the litter, he is forced to compete for food and ends up chewing on the books that surround him. Firmin soon realizes his source of nourishment has given him the ability to read and this discovery fills him with an insatiable hunger for literature and a very unratlike sense of the world and his place in it.

As Firmin navigates the shadowy streets of his decaying area, looking for understanding, his excitement, loneliness, fear, and self-consciousness become remarkably human and undeniably touching. 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 small local theatre, the unique shops and small cafes will face the bulldozers and urban planners…

Brilliantly original and richly allegorical, Firmin is brimming with charm and wistful longing for a world that understands the redemptive power of literature and treasures its seedy theaters, one-of-a-kind characters, and cluttered bookshops.

‘A wonderful celebration of the way reading enriches your life. Firmin may be a rat – poisoned by people he thinks are his friends – but his imagination soars as high as that of any human.’ GUARDIAN

‘Surprising and moving meditation on the advantages (and disadvantages) of an entirely fictional life. Eloquent and witty, Firmin speaks for the book-loving rodent in all of us.’ Karen Joy Fowler, bestselling author of WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES


As Firmin discovers when he hops across oceans and abridges centuries, reading multiplies life
I enjoyed Sam Savage's book more than any work of light fiction I've read in 2008
Sam Savage has written a great comic allegory, and you can bet movie men are already looking at it with Pixar vision
Firmin is an unusual picaresque hero for whom learning.. is an adventure of new discoveries.. it is often funny
I think both men and women would enjoy this book and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves rats or books
a thought-provoking meditation on the nature of human existence
Firmin is one of the most enjoyably surprising books I've read for a long time
Philip Pullman
Delicious. Firmin is a book that is written for readers, that is, for people who have the book passion and for whom books are as real as anything else in life
Donna Leon