Synopses & Reviews
Mwanito Vitalício was eleven when he saw a woman for the first time, and the sight so surprised him he burst into tears.
Mwanito's been living in a big-game park for eight years. The only people he knows are his father, his brother, an uncle, and a servant. He's been told that the rest of the world is dead, that all roads are sad, that they wait for an apology from God. In the place his father calls Jezoosalem, Mwanito has been told that crying and praying are the same thing. Both, it seems, are forbidden.
The eighth novel by The New York Times-acclaimed Mia Couto, The Tuner of Silences is the story of Mwanito's struggle to reconstruct a family history that his father is unable to discuss. With the young woman's arrival in Jezoosalem, however, the silence of the past quickly breaks down, and both his father's story and the world are heard once more.
The Tuner of Silences was heralded as one of the most important books to be published in France in 2011 and remains a shocking portrait of the intergenerational legacies of war. Now available for the first time in English.
"David Brookshaw's lyrical translation of Mia Couto's Portuguese lull[s] us into a hypnotized semi-acceptance of [an] impossible universe....Couto's narrative tone, at once deadpan and beguiling, and his virtuoso management of time, place him alongside the best Latin American magic realists." Times Literary Supplement
"To understand what makes António Mia” Emílio Leite Couto special even extraordinary we have to loosen our grip on the binary that distinguishes between 'the West' and 'Africa.' Couto is 'white' without not being African, and as an 'African' writer he's one of the most important figures in a global Lusophone literature that stretches across three continents. The Tuner of Silences is an instantly recognizable part of this oeuvre....We begin with the magic, with fantasy, with the impossible, and we steadily discover, in the end, that it never really was, that it always was what we were trying to pretend it wasn't. There is no magic. There is only reality." The New Inquiry
"Couto is the author of six novels, six short story collections, and numerous other books, which have been published in more than twenty countries. His fable-like short stories, rooted in animist culture and an irreverent disregard for the conventions of formal literary Portuguese, celebrate African oral storytelling....Such white writers as Nadine Gordimer or J. M. Coetzee in neighbouring South Africa remain more observers than participants in the African culture that surrounds them, but Coutos work, drenched in traditional African conceptions of time, ancestry, and belonging to the land, is widely read in Mozambique, and seen as representative of the country's hybridized African culture." The Walrus
"Starkly poetic...a novel of damaged souls in a damaged country, The Tuner of Silences is an eloquent tale of loss." M.A. Orthofer, The Complete Review
"Couto's language is rich, fertile, and often full of riddles that turn reality, as we know it, on its head. His stories straddle African and European worlds, and his preoccupations range across issues of race and identity, national culture and legacies of the country's civil war...translated into shimmering prose by David Brookshaw, The Tuner of Silences is a true tour-de-force of modern African writing...Couto's literary cosmos is unforgettable." Anderson Tepper, Words Without Borders
"A phenomenal book
a paragon of contemporary African literature...some of the most beautiful and moving prose being written today." The Coffin Factory
The biggest event in international literature this season could easily be the unexpected and magnificent novel of the Mozambican Mia Couto....The fascination exerted by this novel, which one cannot put down, resides in its many resonances. The reader is immersed in the concrete, sensual, even comic nature of the universe into which he ushers us. Mia Couto has made his way discreetly in France as a short story writer and poet. Now we know that he is a very great novelist.” L'Humanité (Paris)
The language floats in a zone where existence becomes a paste of voices and silence. Couto's ghosts have huge hearts but fine ears.” Libération (Paris)
About the Author
Mia Couto, an environmental biologist from Mozambique, is the author of 25 books of fiction, essays and poems in his native Portuguese. Coutos novels and short story collections have been translated into 20 languages. Two of his novels have been made into feature films. His work has been awarded important literary prizes in Mozambique, South Africa, Portugal, Italy and Brazil. His books have been bestsellers in Africa, Europe and Latin America. Six of Couto's books have been translated into English in the United Kingdom: two short story collections by Heinemann and four novels by Serpents Tail.
David Brookshaw is a professor of Hispanic, Portuguese, and Latin American Studies at the University of Bristol (London), and the General Editor of the HiPLA Monograph Series. He is the translator of six books by Couto, including Sleepwalking Land and The Last Flight of the Flamingo.