on February 17, 2006
This is an extraordinary novel. A page turner, a mystery, an exploration of human evil and human goodness, I can't believe this book did not win a huge prize. Maybe it will! Set in dictatorship-ruled Burma, it tells the story of several people in a prison--a political prisoner, a sympathetic jailer and his nemesis, a little boy who is a child labourer and who becomes the political prisoner's dear friend. Easily on par with the Kite Runner--and also on par with the great prison books, like Papillon and The First Circle.
It should be read by anyone who cares about the big issues like freedom of speech, compassion, betrayal, love. Everyone! I'm buying this excellent novel for all my friends. (Okay, not all, but a few!)
It's the best book I've read in a long time. The tension at the end is absolutely unbearable, but Connelly pulls it off with grace and elegance. How some white woman from Alberta could write a book about an Asian man in a prison is in itself a mystery. That she does it so well is an act of bravery and profound artistry.
Read it, and you will be amazed, delighted, saddened, and profoundly moved.
Be prepared to enter a world unlike any other place you have ever experienced.
on November 17, 2006
A work of profound beauty amidst torture, pain and despair! Not an easy accomplishment, but Ms. Connelly manages to accomplish the task with a sense of ease. The story tells of the final chapter in the life of a young political prisoner Teza, who is able to transcend the horrific abuse and treatment of the militant prison officials. The setting is harsh with the Teak Coffin, abusive guards, un-sanitary conditions, and yet the addition of tiny lizards, also trapped, takes the edge off of the bleakness, and allows for Teza's inner compassion for all creatures to shine.
Photographs of everyday Burmese citizens allow for faces to be juxtaposed onto the characters, and this allowed for me to imagine the lives of the singer, his family, the prison officials and the young boy who he protects and eventually rescues and sets free. The plight of the Burmese people resonates brightly within the pages of this book and should be on everyone's "To Read" list.
It has moved me in ways I never imagined possible and has become the favoured book of the year. Take a journey to a far away land and come home feeling enriched for having been introduced to someone as memorable and insightful as beloved TEZA
on October 2, 2014
If you love reading, if you love words, you will love this book. Karen Connelly is a poet who has written a work of prose fiction that will amaze, entertain, and keep you turning pages well after you should be asleep!