Lizard cage

I might have seen her books a few times already when checking if there were any unread books from Michael Connely or Beverly Connor on the library shelf. There were none this time of those 2 authors that I had not already read. So my eye had fallen on Karen Connelly's "Lizard cage" which ended up on my little pile next to my bed.

It was only later at home when I had started the story and had seen the reference to "Touch the dragon" on the backside that it hit me. Touch the dragon! Was this the same author? Really?

My sister had received "Touch the dragon" as a gift many years ago after her year as exchange student in Canada. She had given to me to read it after I had returned back home from my exchange. "Touch the dragon" is the story of a Canadian girl going on a Rotary exchange to a little village on the countryside of Thailand. The culture shock was immense, the language barrier huge and the struggles considerable. And yet Karen had managed to settle in and become part of the village life in Thailand and she learned to love her new environment.
I had loved the book as it was in some extent also my story. We were both united in our experience of travelling across the world at the age of 17-18 to settle in a new unknown family, new school, conquer language confusion etc. Her homesickness was mine, her love for her new friends and her new environment was mine as well. But her story also made my exchange seem so safe and easy. No matter how much I have loved my Canadian adventure and consider it as my second home country, I've always been left to wonder after reading Karen's book whether my personality would have matured a lot more if I had chosen a far more 'exotic' culture as country of destination.
Anyway...apparently Karen had grown into a successful author in the mean time.

When reading "Lizard Cage"  it is clear that she still holds very strong ties with Asia. The story is about a young political prisoner in Burma, locked up in harsh solitary confinement for writing popular protest songs. Despite the hardships, mental & physical torture he manages to impact the lives he touches in prison and outside and he can develop a friendship with a little orphan boy who tries to survive in prison as he has no other place to go to.  While in the background Aung San Suu Kyi gets released for the first time (which was very odd as just when reading that...she was released again last month), the story develops at the same time in a very suffocating and haunting yet very touching way. The fact that the book deals with Aung San Suu Kyi was a shocker as at first I though the story had been set several decades ago but , although fiction, this turns out to be about modern Myanmar.  I had some trouble to get into the story at first and I think I'm lacking some Asian cultural references and I wasn't used to the style of writing. Honestly, at the start I thought reading it to the end would be a struggle.  But when I was nearing the end, I was both addicted and also sad that it would end.


Kat Mortensen said…
Sounds like a fascinating book! That's amazing that you came across the author again in that way - how neat is that?

A book you might like is, "Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven" about two American College students who go on a lengthy trip to experience other cultures and have a devastating visit to China.

Brian Miller said…
hmmm...will have to check this one out...

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