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The Piano Tunerby Daniel Mason
Synopses & Reviews
An extraordinary first novel that tells the story of a British piano tuner sent deep into Burma in the nineteenth century.
In October 1886, Edgar Drake receives a strange request from the British War Office: he must leave his wife and his quiet life in London to travel to the jungles of Burma, where a rare Erard grand piano is in need of repair. The piano belongs to an army surgeon-major whose unorthodox peacemaking methods — poetry, medicine, and now music — have brought a tentative quiet to the southern Shan States but have elicited questions from his superiors.
On his journey through Europe, the Red Sea, India, and into Burma, Edgar meets soldiers, mystics, bandits, and tale-spinners, as well as an enchanting woman as elusive as the surgeon-major. And at the doctor's fort on a remote Burmese river, Edgar encounters a world more mysterious and dangerous than he ever could have imagined.
Sensuous, lyrical, rich with passion and adventure, this is a hypnotic tale of myth, romance, and self-discovery: an unforgettable novel.
"Excellent....[Mason's] powerful prose style and his ability to embrace history, politics, nature and medicine...[is] astonishing." The New York Times Book Review
"Daniel Mason's ambitious, lyrical The Piano Tuner...[possesses] genuine moments of ominous beauty....Readers...should be intrigued by the mix of historical detail, lush settings, and equally lush language." San Jose Mercury News
"A smart, entertaining adventure." Christian Science Monitor
"Richly imagined, The Piano Tuner winds like a lazy river, carrying the reader into the mythic land of Kipling and Conrad." People
"Mason proves himself equally adept at scenes of wry humor and moments of rapture; most remarkable, he has written a profound adventure story with an unexpected climax, as the mild piano tuner finally becomes the hero of his own life." The New Yorker
"[A] seductive and lyrical novel that probes the brutalities and compromises of colonization, even as it celebrates the elusive powers of music and the imagination." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Luminous....Mason's writing achieves that kind of reverie in which every vision, tone, flavor and sensation is magnified." The Los Angeles Times
"This is an utterly involving first novel, rich in historical detail and as lulling as Burma itself. Mason's language is at once tropically lush and as precise as a Bach prelude." Library Journal
"An extraordinary piece of work. The Piano Tuner is a novel of journeys and the shifting grounds of perception, but at heart it is a story of the human urge to be absorbed fully into life, to cease to be a bystander, to be thrust into the essential dreamscape of human strivings. Daniel Mason's debut is shining and striking. He transported me thoroughly, well beyond the initial reading. Days later, the scenes shift and stir and agitate within me. This is writing of deep potency and resonance. Of beauty and pain and all things in between." Jeffrey Lent, author of In the Fall and Lost Nation
In 1886 a shy, middle-aged piano tuner named Edgar Drake receives an unusual commission from the British War Office: to travel to the remote jungles of northeast Burma and there repair a rare piano belonging to an eccentric army surgeon who has proven mysteriously indispensable to the imperial design. From this irresistible beginning, The Piano Tuner launches its protagonist into a world of seductive loveliness and nightmarish intrigue. And as he follows Drakes journey, Mason dazzles readers with his erudition, moves them with his vibrantly rendered characters, and enmeshes them in the unbreakable spell of his storytelling.
About the Author
Daniel Mason received his bachelor's degree in biology from Harvard in 1998 and spent a year studying malaria on the Thai-Myanmar border, where much of The Piano Tuner was written. He is currently a medical student at the University of California, San Francisco.
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