22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Karen Connelly

Portrait Karen Connelly
© Ali Ghandtschi

Author of eleven books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, Karen Connelly has been called »one of Canada’s smartest, fiercest and most intrepid writers«. Born in 1969, she was raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, but began living outside of Canada at the age of seventeen, in Asia. An outspoken human rights activist, a polyglot, a provocateur, she has lived in Thailand, Spain, France, and Greece, travelled in the Middle East and North Africa, and spent extended periods of time in Myanmar and on the Thai-Myanmar border. Her other home is the Greek island of Lesvos, where she has lived periodically since 1992. She has fundraised for Starfish, a Greek first-responder organization that works with refugees.

She is the author of the acclaimed novel »The Lizard Cage« (2007), winner of Britain’s Orange Broadband New Novelist’s Prize and shortlisted for the U.S.’s Kiriyama Prize. The novel is set in a prison near Yangon, mostly in the solitary confinement cell of Teza, a famous young singer imprisoned for his protest songs. Teza becomes friends with his server and one of the prison warders. What follows is a suspenseful, brilliant exploration of the nature of violence, loyalty, and language. »The New York Times Book Review« compared the novel to the works of Orwell, Mandela and Solzhenitsyn. It was published in Canada, the U.S., the U.K, and translated into Dutch, Hebrew, Italian, French, and Greek. Though banned for a decade in Myanmar, it was also recently translated and published there. She followed this up with the nonfiction book »Burmese Lessons« (2010), which recounts her experiences inside Myanmar and her relationship, on the Thai-Myanmar border, with a dissident leader. Her most recent book is »The Change Room« (2017), is her first book to be set in Canada. It tells the story of a married heterosexual woman involved in a passionate adulterous affair with another woman, a sex worker. Critics have called it »revolutionary«, »boundary-breaking« and »her most provocative book yet«, because it bucks the usual trend in fiction and film: neither of the misbehaving women die by the end of the story. In 2019 she will publish a collection of her award-winning essays called »How to Grow a New Heart, true stories from a wild life«.

Connelly’s other accolades include the Pat Lowther Award for Poetry (1991), the renowned Canadian Governor General’s Award (1994), further nominations for the Governor General’s Award and a 2006 longlisting for the prestigious IMPAC Award. In 2018, she was a finalist for the U.S. Bisexual Writer of the Year Award. She is based in Toronto, Canada, where she lives with her family, writes, teaches and works as a therapist in private practice.