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The Cage

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  299 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Two mysterious strangers appear at a hotel in a small country town.

Where have they come from? Who are they? What catastrophe are they fleeing?

The townspeople want answers, but the strangers are unable to speak of their trauma. And before long, wary hospitality shifts to suspicion and fear, and the care of the men slides into appalling cruelty.

Lloyd Jones’s fable-like nov
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 29th 2018 by Text Publishing (first published 2018)
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Average rating 3.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  299 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
“In itself the wind is hard to hear. It has to occupy other things. It needs a split gable to rush through. Clapboard or loose windows to play and slap against. Clouds to push about. Without these, the wind is just a bully that we have heard of.”

The Cage is the sixth adult novel by New Zealand author, Lloyd Jones. Two strangers turn up in town. They seem to be survivors of some unknown catastrophe, but are unable to speak of it, unable to say where they're from, who they are. The townsfolk are s
Jodie Thomson
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book is like Chia. I know it is good and is good for me but so very unenjoyable.
Text Publishing
‘The Kiwi master who brought us Mister Pip and The Book of Fame is in fine form with this unsettling new novel that begins with two mysterious strangers arriving at a hotel in a small country town. Hospitality shifts to suspicion and fear in this allegorical, fable-like tale about humanity and dignity and the ease with which we can justify brutality.’

‘The puzzle of where the human essence lies and is shared is implicit in Jones' dark parable.’

‘It is (also) brilliant. It compels and
Marcus Hobson
The new novel by Lloyd Jones is a shock. It is dark and disturbing and leaves the reader with many unanswered questions.

Earlier novels by Lloyd Jones, such as 'Mr Pip' or 'Hand Me Down World' have dealt with outsiders, people who have come from somewhere else. 'The Cage' is similar, but it is the reaction to the two outsiders in this book that is utterly surprising.

Two strangers arrive in a small country town. The country is not named but I assume that it is New Zealand because of a kiwi song th
B. Tollison
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reality and surrealism, humour and drama, degradation and resolution. This is basically a more accessible and enjoyable version of Kafka.

For the first 50 pages or so, I went into this with the assumption that it was a serious, straight-laced drama and so I found myself inevitably frustrated with the incongruent behaviours and dream-like logic of the characters. This was before realising maybe I shouldn't be taking things so seriously. So I resolved to approach the rest of the story more as a da
Jenny Esots
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Who were the strangers?
Homeless tramps?
Refugees from a catastrophe that no-one knows anything about.
The paranoia is rampant and intoxicating throughout this disturbing and unsettling tale.
The trustees who monitor 'the cage' are a study in denial.
How could the trustees condone keeping the strangers in such filth?
There is the obvious metaphor of animals kept in the zoo.
Powerless and constantly watched.
The strangers in our world are many, to be kept at arms length.
Sent to an island until they eith
Jul 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is definitely a grim allegorical tale which examines, with unpleasant intensity, our moral compasses and a tendency for our politicians (and many others) to demonstrate a lack of social and emotional intelligence. The juxtaposition of the naive narrator and the extreme calculated ill treatment of the ‘strangers’ by the ‘Trustees’ caused me to cringe with distaste.

I felt like Lloyd Jones was placing one of those mirrors from a ‘hall of mirrors’ maze in front of the reader. We think we know w
Robert Wechsler
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: australasian-lit
An excellent dark, dark fable about the dehumanization of refugees. It’s both very direct and specific in its approach, with a first-person narration by a rather naive yet somewhat understanding young man. And yet it is also abstract, especially troubling because of how everyone, including the narrator, views what is happening, most notably its inevitability and how what they are doing is all for the good of the refugees, who are not cooperating sufficiently. The only negative is that it is a bi ...more
Rach Denholm
An allegorical fable of power and cruelty; social control and fear of what is not understood. An interesting thing is that the central characters are all men which means men have the power over men, and rely on men to enforce the powerful rules. Some interesting observations on what it takes both to be in control, and to stay in control. The choice to remain silent rather than oppose power is explored, along with the devastating consequences of ignorant decisions.
Two strangers arrive in a town,
Lisa Hynes
May 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
A promising and intriguing start but the best thing about stories that open with a hundred questions is that, normally, along the way the questions are gradually answered. Not in this book. I was tempted to give up but kept on going in the hope of at least some answers but none came. There is probably a point being made but if there is, I missed it and pretty much hated this book.
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So strange. So intriguing. So morally challenging. A completely unexpected dark fable from the author of one of my favourite novels (Mister Pip), The Cage will make you rethink the way you view and treat "the other" in our midsts. ...more
A really wierd book. I still dont really know what to think of it. Very puzzling. Very disturbing. But somehow mesmerising. Gave it 4 stars for the writing alone.
Jane Gregg
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club-reads
So clever and beautifully written - but just so hard to read in its relentlessness.
Nic Ayson
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's difficult to rate a book with such filth, degradation and bleakness with four stars but Jones's ability to write of such horrors with such beauty and poeticism is captivating. So as I shuddered my way through this allegorical tale of two strangers suffering deep cruelty at the hands of 'the Trust', I revelled in Jones's masterful writing. Fear and loathing, cruel, mistrust versus doubt, compassion, dignity and hope - this story challenges the way in which witness and accept difference and h ...more
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
Finished: 24.04.2019
Genre: novel
Rating: C-
#Ockham NZ Book Awards shortlisted 2019
Needs a good editor....
and here is why.

My Thoughts

Apr 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Well-written, but think this might have been a case of picking the wrong book at the wrong time. I'd also read something in a similar vein only a month ago. May have got a 4* rating otherwise. If it sounds like it's up your alley I'd recommend picking it up. ...more
Laura May
Jun 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2020
This book has such a promising premise and I was so disappointed that it just didn't hit the mark for me.
Two strangers arriving in an unknown town, suffering the effects of a catastrophe they are unable to speak of. The residence of the town are fascinated by the pair trying to coax out their story in hopes of protecting themselves from whatever the strangers have been through. After frustrations build with their lack of openness, the pair are kept in a cage like structure with the trustees de
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is tempting to see this book as a commentary on US policy towards immigrants, but I think the allegory is a wider one about the treatment of people who need and deserve help and get persecution. People fleeing a disaster do not bring that disaster with them, they are trying to escape it. Any action or inaction which makes them seem different, does not make them different.
There are other reviews which tell you what happens in this book, but I suggest you read the book.
Jennifer (JC-S)
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
‘What do we know? We know that something has happened .’

Our narrator, a boy known to us only as ‘Sport’ tells us about two strangers seeking refuge, at his Uncle Warwick’s hotel:

‘With darkness falling they stop finally outside a hotel with its flickering sign, ‘All Welcome’. And this is how, three months ago, they came to enter our world .’

They are two men, one older one younger. They are bedraggled, with battered suitcases. They are traumatised but are unable to speak about what has happened. T
Sep 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this a hard read but that does not detract from the quality of Jones writing.
I understand inspired by coming across stranded migrants somewhere in Europe this book is a metaphor for the journey these migrants are on. Shows how heartless we can be to the plight of others.
Feb 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: new-zealand, fiction
I don't think the novel will make people question how they would act as much it should. It's just there, but doesn't pull you all the way in. ...more
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
‘Everyone is born to a place on this earth. And everyone has a cover they can slip in and out of. We ask, we prod. They shake their heads, then look disconsolate. What are they to do? What are we to do?’

In unsettling times do we seek solace in stories that give us comfort and reassurance, or do we turn to unsettling, evasive stories that defy answers? In an interview Haruki Murakami once pointed out that during the fall of Communism in eastern Europe he saw sales of his books increase; as he put
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Cage is such a devastating, confronting novel, I found myself not wanting to continue, yet unable to stop reading.

I knew Jones to be an author who writes about outsiders, most recently for me in Hand Me Down World. But The Cage is something else again.
This is the blurb:
Two mysterious strangers appear at a hotel in a small country town.
Where have they come from? Who are they? What catastrophe are they fleeing?
The townspeople want answers, but the strangers are unable to speak of their t
Vaughan Willis
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wise fable, beautiful, original and disturbing, with strong notes of magical realism. Two male “strangers” come to a town and are accommodated in a hotel, then a cage adjacent to it where they are confined and observed like animals in a zoo. By the NZ author of Mr Pip, could this be an allegory for the Manus or Christmas Island detention centres? No, I decided. Rather more existential, but then I remembered reading that it was inspired by Jones’ sight of refugees at Keleti Station, Budapest. B ...more
Ben Thurley
Aug 17, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a dark parable of cruelty and human ingenuity to justify indifference to suffering and retributive or supposedly precautionary brutality. It is a Kakfaesque tale perfect in an age of indefinite detention, demonisation of refugees, ever-expanding cruelties against the most vulnerable of persons.

In nameless town, two strangers – survivors of an unnamed, possibly unnameable trauma – arrive and are taken in, at first into hotel rooms but soon – as they cannot or will not provide further deta
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The place and time of the town you enter in this intriguing fable is just close enough to be familiar - and that's where the reader's fear lies: that this story is happening around us as we choose to ignore it. Jones explores the human distrust of the stranger, when our own fears compel us to act without compassion or trust. In observing the behaviour of the two caged strangers, in recording their movements and reactions and deterioration, the adolescent given this "job" remains distant from his ...more
Mar 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Described in the blurb as a 'profound and unsettling fable', this book failed to meet my expectations. I expected to learn more and feel emotionally moved. There is of course the possibility that I read it with the wrong mindset, as at certain parts I didn't understand the meaning or reasons behind it e.g. 'the woman in the hat'. The ending was unsatisfying and I would've preferred if more loose ends were tied up. Maybe it's just one of those stories where the audience must infer and even create ...more
Ciaran Macdonald
Nov 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
This story simply didn’t work for me in a myriad of ways. I failed to connect with the latent reality that the ‘strangers’ did not behave like believable characters to me. The other characters had traits and arcs that would have melded a believable world but the ‘strangers’ or key to the narrative and the aspiring outrage we as readers should feel towards what are acts and omissions of ostensible cruelty.
Rachel Rees
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wow. What a tragic yet beautiful story. I had no idea what I was in for with Lloyd Jone’s new novel and I have to say I am so pleased he wrote this. I abhor animal cruelty and animal captivity. To feel the experience from the perspective of two humans sends a strong message about how unfeeling we have become as a species. It’s so nice to know there are writers out there brave enough to write these kinds of stories. You, Mr. Jones, continue to be my favourite author.
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it
The Cage is far from an easy read but it is compelling. At a time when Australia needs to have a good hard look at our attitudes to and treatment of those who 'are different', I found this novel to be soul destroying as I looked into the mirror of our nation. There were a few patches that didn't hang together all that well for me but overall this is a book that every Australian should read. Written by a New Zealand author whose quirky nature appealed to me in Mister Pip and again in this book. ...more
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Lloyd Jones was born in 1955 in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, a place which has become a frequent setting and subject for his subsequent works of fiction. He studied at Victoria University, and has worked as a journalist and consultant as well as a writer. His recent novels are: Biografi (1993); Choo Woo (1998); Here At The End of the World We Learn to Dance (2002); Paint Your Wife (2004);and Mister Pi ...more

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