The Piano Tuner – ARC Book Review

Title:- The Piano Tuner

Author:- Chiang Sheng Kuo (translated by Howard Glodblatt and Sylvia Li Chun Lin)

Date published:- will be published on 3rd January 2023

No. of pages:- 168 pages

Genre:- Literary Fiction


Plot:- 4/5

Writing:- 4/5

Overall rating:- 4/5

This bestseller and winner of every major literary award in Taiwan is an elegiac novel about love and loss, broken dreams and desolate hearts—and music: “A delightful read.”—Ha Jin
A widower grieving for his young wife. A piano tuner concealing a lifetime of secrets. An out-of-tune Steinway piano. A journey of self-discovery across time and continents, from a dark apartment in Taipei’s red-light district to snow-clad New York.
At the heart of the story is the nameless narrator, the piano tuner. In his forties, he is balding and ugly, a loser by any standard. But he was once a musical prodigy. What betrayal and what heartbreak made him walk away from greatness?
Long hailed in Taiwan as a “writer’s writer,” Chiang-Sheng Kuo delivers a stunningly powerful, compact novel in The Piano Tuner. It’s a book of sounds: both of music and of the heart, from Rachmaninoff to Schubert, from Glenn Gould to Sviatoslav Richter, from untapped potential to unrequited love. With a cadence and precision that bring to mind Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nocturnes, and Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country, this short novel may be a portrait of the artist as a “failure,” but it also describes a pursuit of the ultimate beauty in music and in love.

This was a short novel, about a man, who is grieving at the death of his wife. He is a piano tuner and as a child, he used to play the piano, playing the likes of Schubert, Chopin and Beethoven but now he is a piano tuner and only gets to play the piano while he is at work.

This book is beautifully written, the story connecting to the themes of classical music. As a piano teacher, I do feel connected to this book and already recognize some of the pieces mentioned in the book. The story itself is written in a lyrical way and is very beautifully woven story and the narration was different as well. Only bad thing about the book is it was a little too short and I wish I can explore more about the relationship between Lin and his wife. Overall this book worth 4 stars.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC. The review is based on my honest opinion only.

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