The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly

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Beautifully written and taking us into an exotic land, Karen Connelly’s debut novel The Lizard Cage is a celebration of the resilience of the human spirit.

Teza once electrified the people of Burma with his protest songs against the dictatorship. Arrested by the Burmese secret police in the days of mass protest, he is seven years into a twenty-year sentence in solitary confinement. Cut off from his family and contact with other prisoners, he applies his acute intelligence, Buddhist patience, and humor to find meaning in the interminable days, and searches for news in every being and object that is grudgingly allowed into his cell.

Despite his isolation, Teza has a profound influence on the people around him. His very existence challenges the brutal authority of the jailers, and his steadfast spirit inspires radical change. Even when Teza’s criminal server tries to compromise the singer for his own gain, Teza befriends him and risks falling into the trap of forbidden conversation, food, and the most dangerous contraband of all: paper and pen.

Yet, it is through Teza’s relationship with Little Brother, a twelve-year-old orphan who’s grown up inside the walls, that we ultimately come to understand the importance of hope and human connection in the midst of injustice and violence. Teza and the boy are prisoners of different orders: only one of them dreams of escape and only one of them will achieve it—their extraordinary friendship frees both of them in utterly surprising ways.

About Karen Connelly

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KAREN CONNELLY's first novel, The Lizard Cage, won the 2007 Orange Broadband Award for New Writers. Her first book, The Dream of a Thousand Lives, won the Governor General's Literary Award and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 2001.
Published September 21, 2011 by Spiegel & Grau. 450 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Lizard Cage

The New York Times

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This first novel peers into the tortured mind of an incarcerated political dissident.

May 27 2007 | Read Full Review of The Lizard Cage

The Guardian

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It is in this old-fashioned battle between good and evil that the novel has its most compelling moments, with Connelly using a variety of plot devices to great effect: the mysterious disappearance of the pen that holds the key to Teza's fate, or the race to get Little Brother (and the information...

Feb 02 2007 | Read Full Review of The Lizard Cage

Bookmarks Magazine

Rabindranath Maharaj Vancouver Sun 3.5 of 5 Stars "Connelly’s ability to move deftly from Teza in the cage to the Burmese world outside the prison walls allows her to mix the hard facts of the failed uprising with storytelling.

Aug 07 2007 | Read Full Review of The Lizard Cage


Every day that the Democrats don’t move to end the war in Iraq is another day in which that war, stretching ever on, can become the Democrats’ war.

Mar 04 2007 | Read Full Review of The Lizard Cage

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