The Lizard Cage

The Lizard Cage

Book - 2005
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The much-anticipated debut novel from the remarkable Karen Connelly, award-winning poet and non-fiction writer, is a hymn to human resilience, love and humour -- a potent act of empathy and witness. Inside his solitary confinement cell, Teza, who once electrified the people of Burma with his protest songs against the dictatorship, now applies his acute intelligence and Buddhist patience to finding meaning in the interminable days. Arrested by the Burmese secret police, cut off from his family for the first seven years of a twenty-year sentence, Teza painstakingly unrolls the newspaper filters of his rationed cheroots to seek news of the outside world. But even in isolation, he has a profound influence on the people around him. His integrity and humour inspire the conscience-ridden senior jailer to radical change. His very existence challenges the brutal authority of the junior jailer, perversely nicknamed Handsome. Teza's most steady human contact, the common criminal Sein Yun, his food server, views him as his ticket out of jail, trying to entice Teza into Handsome's web. Lastly there's Little Brother, an orphan who's grown up inside the jail, imprisoned by his own deprivation. Teza and the boy are prisoners of different orders, but their extraordinary friendship frees both of them in utterly surprising ways. Overturning our expectations, Karen Connelly presents us with a world that celebrates human spirit, and spirit itself, in the midst of injustice and trauma. On the floor below the bead-sized gap is a small mountain of cement dust, the ants' excavations. The ants are burrowing their way out. Sometimes Teza hears the amber mandibles patiently crunch through the mortar between the bricks. Many legs push the bits back, back, back, passing the piece from one to the other until finally the last ant pushes it out of the wall and it falls into the pile on the floor. . .. After breaking a length of straw from his mat, he carefully disrupts the march and edges an ant onto the straw. The ant's antennae wave about, tasting the air. Then it pauses to clean itself. "Yes," Teza whispers above the ant's head. "The air is dirty too. Wash yourself." The ant obediently licks his brown hands, pulls the flexible antennae to his mouth, runs the thin feelers along his tongue. Teza tilts the straw down. The ant crawls up. He turns the straw over. The ant crawls down. The singer paces eight by eight feet with the ant crawling up and down, up and down. I take the ant for a walk, he explains in English. I am walking the ant. Promener, in French. But ant? He replaces it with cat. Je promène le très très petit chat brun. --excerpt from The Lizard Cage
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, c2005
ISBN: 9780679310228
Branch Call Number: CON
Characteristics: 516 p. ;,ill. ;,24 cm


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WVMLStaffPicks Feb 01, 2015

Teza, a young Burmese man, has been sentenced to 20 years in solitary confinement for writing protest songs against the military regime. Set almost entirely within the prison, this is a vivid, often poetic, recreation of a community full of contradictions. It is a community where passionate life-affirming ideals co-exist with brutality, deprivation and cruelty. Teza develops a strong relationship with a young orphan boy who also lives within the prison walls. Riveting, sad, and disturbing, but ultimately a hopeful read.

Jul 30, 2014

If you like a book that leaves an impression on you then you must absolutley read this book. Very touching and informative story. I really loved this one.

Oct 07, 2013

Karen Connelly won the Govenor General's Award for Non-Fiction in 1993 for Touch the Dragon. The Lizard Cage a 2005 novel is a book to read if you are a person who would like to know more about Burma or Buddhism should read.

Here is a pretty good summary of the story:

My favourite quote " ..the power beyond the body is the spirit. "

May 20, 2013

This is a very soulful story. It is about a political prisoner in Burma by the name of Teza. The story deals a lot with the horrors of life in the prison but the real story is the effect that Teza's presence has on several different characters in the book. The author makes quite a political statement about the state of affairs in Burma, but was able to wrap it all up in a sensitive and touching story line. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this beautiful book and highly recommend it. Guaranteed to touch your heart.

Jul 27, 2012

Everyone should read this book.

Feb 26, 2012

This story was excellent. Moving and agonizing. I highly recommend this book.

Goober1950 Jun 25, 2011

Best one yet! One to own!


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Oct 07, 2013

I think this is a pretty good summary available at the Good Reads site:


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Oct 07, 2013

" ..the power beyond the body is the spirit. "

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