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The Lizard Cage Paperback – Mar 6 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Connelly won the Governor General's Award for Nonfiction with Dream of a Thousand Lives: A Sojourn in Thailand, and her debut novel revisits Southeast Asia to soulful effect. Imprisoned in a mid-'90s Rangoon gulag, dissident singer/songwriter Teza stalks and eats the acrobatic lizards that venture across his cell's ceiling at sundown. Senior jailer Nyunt Wai Oo angles for a promotion by scheming to plant contraband writing materials inside the celebrated Teza's cage. The plot backfires when Teza inadvertently passes the proscribed ballpoint to the illiterate, resourceful serving boy, Nyi Lay, who hoards the pen for dear life. As the entire prison is shaken down and Teza and Nyi Lay are tortured nearly to death, a bond of brotherhood develops between the lowly Nyi Lay and Teza. The gangster inmate on the ward, Tan-see Tiger, who oversees an in-house smuggling operation, completes the triangle; he and Teza realize that the only measure of liberation left to them lies in making sure Nyi Lay leaves the prison camp alive. A brutal exposé with harrowing descriptions of prison life and heavily spiritual overtones, Connelly's novel combines a thrillerlike pace with finely etched portraits that show how each character takes control of his own freedom. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Shortlisted for the 2006 International Kiriyama Prize
“A feat of epic vision…. The suspense never relents. Hope is small, but it lives, strengthened by this powerful book.”
–Maxine Hong Kingston, author of The Fifth Book of Peace
“These are stories that need to be told.”
“By turns delights, surprises and shocks. But even when writing of some of the darkest depths to which humanity can sink, Connelly’s poet’s heart shines through.… The resiliency of the human spirit is the beacon that informs this work.”
“The Lizard Cage is ridiculously and beautifully cinematic…. Connelly is an exacting writer. She burrows into scenes and surroundings and returns with startling imagery. There are great moments in the book, strung together like honed passages in a collection of poetry.”
–Quill & Quire
“Connelly’s writing is fluid and well-paced, and her fictive prison world, set in the actual political hellhole that is present-day Burma, is as affecting as any UN statistical report about the conditions of life in that ruined country.”
Praise for Karen Connelly:
"Karen Connelly has an enviable, somewhat disquieting ability to possess the spirit of a place. . . The unknown, the faraway, the endlessly strange spring to life in her work."
—Books in Canada
"Hers is an authentic voice, the voice of a born poet intoxicated by language."
—Atlantic Books Today
". . . a genius for framing the texture of daily life — the feel, the shape, the inner longing, the sounds — in language of sublime perfection."
—The Hamilton Spectator
"Touch the Dragon is a splendid evocation of a place and a people that remain, for most of us, in dreams. Few can record such dreams — but Karen Connelly has done so."
"Karen Connelly not only illuminates a society, but shows us, through the beauty, energy and humour of her language and imagery, how this strange place touched and changed her, allowing her to receive and understand a common humanity."
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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
Most recent customer reviews
First third of the book is difficult to stomach. I almost stopped reading. V glad I kept reading. V well written and enlightening. A story of hope. I like those!Published 20 months ago by Gail L. Speers
One of the best books I've read in the last few years. Have recommended it to many, who have also liked it.Published on May 28 2013 by linda mcmullen
This is not a review of the book itself but for the MONTH it took to arrive from "Your online bookstore" in the States to Canada when it has "WOW shipped next business day" on the... Read morePublished on Aug. 18 2010 by book worm