The Butterfly Prison

the butterfly prison nyala title font with butterflies

“There were people in neckties who sucked out the essence of things, leaving the husks behind. They stole the world’s flowers and replaced them with plastic ones, they stole art and replaced it with pomposity, and they stole delight and replaced it with canned laughter. They stole beauty.” 

The Butterfly Prison is a tapestry of vignettes, weaving the hushed up stories of the world with the lives of Paz and Mella. As they both fight for dignity, Paz, who dreams up photos, faces the abandonment of his town and must resist police harassment, while Mella, who always whispers, must learn to lead. Their different decisions in the face of oppression make the novel a compelling story of choices, consequences, battles, systematic injustice, and the inner magic of humanity.

Tender, candid, and thought provoking, The Butterfly Prison employs raw lyrical prose to reflect on and redefine our notions of beauty, freedom, heroes, criminals, and poverty.

Available here direct from the publisher. Amazon E-book here and in print here


In language that bounces and jabs like a prize fighter, Tamara Pearson has given us a novel that spans the globe, mixing unforgettable stories with the politics of power.  Supremely readable and supremely insightful. – Greg Palast, author of the New York Times bestsellers, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

Pearson’s writing is poetic, haunting, and acidic. In the Butterfly Prison, she interweaves compelling characters with the much larger issues of war, ecological collapse, and human suffering. This is a meditation on the similarities and differences of the prisons that people are forced to live in and the ways that they resist their imprisonment. This is a story about the power of human creativity in the face of indifference and violence. It is a reminder of the importance of imagination and creating new stories as weapons against evil and self-annihilation. – Mai’a Williams, co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering

I loved this. Some of it made me want to turn the text into artwork. So fucking beautiful and heart exploding – Margaret Allum, Green Left Weekly

With unsettling metaphors and an intense narrative thread, Tamara Pearson makes you work for it. But you’ll be glad you did. This is a genuinely original, and tender insight into the forgotten lives and dreams that long to break through the cracks in the paving stones of our broken societies. – Iain Bruce, Film maker, journalist, and author of various non fiction books including The Porto Alegre Alternative: Direct Democracy in Action.

This is a novel that talks about the hardest things, and in such an engrossing way. The character Paz just blew me away. – Michael Fox, co-director of documentary Beyond Elections: Redefining Democracy in the Americas and co-author of both Venezuela Speaks!: Voices from the Grassroots and Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions

Tamara Pearson has drawn upon her extensive experience observing Latin American political movements to write this promising new novel. – George Ciccariello-Maher, author of We Created Chavez: A People’s History of the Venezuelan Revolution

I strongly recommend Tamara Pearson’s novel The Butterfly Prison, for its political and social insight, uniqueness, and moving prose. This is a powerful novel that has an impact, it will stay relevant for a very long time.  –Michael Albert, author and co-author of over twenty books, including Looking Forward, Thought Dreams: Radical Theory for the 21st Century, and Parecon: Life after Capitalism.

In “The Butterfly Prison,” Tamara Pearson does a fascinating job of injecting political statements into a story about very likeable human beings, victims of social injustice. She is especially effective in her colorful use of words to provide vivid descriptions. – Steve Ellner, author and editor of a range of non-fiction books, including Rethinking Venezuelan Politics: Class, Polarization and the Chávez Phenomenon.

The Butterfly Prison tells of undeclared wars, of stolen stories, of crises declared only when the rich are worried, not when millions of children are dying. The imperative for a different world cries out from every page.” –  Mike Cole, co-author (with Sara Motta) of Constructing Twenty-First Century Socialism in Latin America: The Role of Radical Education.

Reviews and interviews:

‘The Butterfly Prison’ reignites hope for a better, more just world

Debut novel focuses on human potential in snapshot of life and struggles

Moronic Ox talks with author and social activist Tamara Pearson

“The Butterfly Prison” by Tamara Pearson affectionately demands change

Booklover Book Review of The Butterfly Prison

New Book Review: National Library Reviews Literary Fiction






Book launch, signing, and creative writing workshops on imagination for liberation:
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