Tuesday 18 October 2022

Book Review: The Piano Tuner by Kuo Chiang-sheng (Literary Fiction/Novella)

Title: The Piano Tuner
Author: Kuo Chiang-sheng
Publisher: Arcade
Publication Date: 3 January 2023
Pages: 94
Format: eBook - EPUB
Genre: Literary Fiction/Novella
Source: ARC via NetGalley

A bestseller and winner of every major literary award in Taiwan, an elegiac novel about love and loss, broken dreams and desolate hearts—and music
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.


The Piano Tuner was a short but impactful read. It caught my interest right from the first page and held it throughout. The themes were beautifully woven through the story, all connected by music and the piano. The prose was lyrical too, floating you through the scenes, and the narration style was different but somehow perfectly suited to the story. All in all this was a captivating read recommended to fans of literary fiction (and fans of music). It gets 4.5 stars from me.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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