The Tuner of Silences

The Tuner of Silences

4.5 2
by Mia Couto

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"Eleven when I saw a woman for the first time, I was seized by such surprise I burst into tears."See more details below


"Eleven when I saw a woman for the first time, I was seized by such surprise I burst into tears."

Editorial Reviews

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Praise for The Tuner of Silences

The Tuner of Silences [published in English in 2013] is a wonderful book - it’s poetic, incorporating poetry into the chapters, and it also describes a kind of post-apocalyptic world that’s both very grim and strangely beautiful.”—Edwin Frank, founder and editor of New York Review Books

"Subtle and elegant."—The Wall Street Journal

"Mia Couto, long regarded as one of the leading writers in Mozambique, has now been recognized as one of the greatest living writers in the Portuguese language … The Tuner of Silences cracks open a welcoming window onto a vast world of literary pleasures that has for too long remained under the radar in the English-speaking world."—Philip Graham, The Millions

"Lovers of African literature may find resonance here between Couto's writing and J.M. Coetzee's new novel, The Childhood of Jesus. Both turn away from the present to reflect on the ethics of our interactions with others and the parameters of our internal worlds. While Couto's work is ultimately more joyful, The Tuner of Silences remains a sad novel of poetic brilliance – haunting in its human landscape."—The Independent

"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

"“Mia Couto is trying to lift the yoke of colonialism from a culture by reinvigorating its language. A master of Portuguese prose, he wants to lift that burden one word, one sentence, and one narrative at a time, and in this endeavor he has few if any peers.”—Robert Con Davis-Undiano, Executive Director, World Literature Today

"Some critics have called Mia Couto ‘the smuggler writer,’ a sort of Robin Hood of words who steals meanings to make them available in every tongue, forcing apparently separate worlds to communicate. Within his novels, each line is like a small poem.”—Gabriella Ghermandi

"A fine portrait of grief and loss ... and a strange fever-dream that jolts in and out of fantasy."—The Globe & Mail

"Couto's powerful, haunting, kaleidoscopic mythopoesis dramatizes the grievous, crumbling, post-nuclear family, forever on the run from its inevitable breakdown, with nowhere to go in a barbed-wire world where beauty provokes violence … a chthonic pietà carved from gnarled, screaming, ironwood stumps."—The Review of Contemporary Fiction

"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 Couto’s 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)

Praise for Mia Couto

“On almost every page of this witty, magic realist whodunit, we sense Couto’s delight in those places where language slips officialdom’s asphyxiating grasp.”
New York Times

“Quite unlike anything else I have read from Africa."
- Doris Lessing

"Even in translation, his prose is suffused with striking images.”
Washington Post

"Couto is considered the most-prominent of the younger generation of writers in Portuguese-speaking Africa. In his novels, Couto passionately and sensitively describes everyday life in poverty-stricken Mozambique." - The Guardian

"Mia Couto is a white Mozambican who writes in Portuguese, perhaps the most prominent of his generation of writers... Couto adroitly captures the chaos and comedy of an abrupt and externally imposed shift in ideologies. No one gets off lightly...The narrative shifts nimbly through a range of registers, from supple wordplay to lyricism." - London Review of Books

"Mia Couto from Mozambique has witnessed his country's tumultous struggle for independence, the drama of revolution, and a protracted civil war as a journalist and editor, a poet and novelist, and an environmental biologist. His novels bind national history to ancestral mythology. They are a vindication of how oral legends can be received in any language...The story of the home is told in desperate cries, seductive whispers and childish laughter. The novel has much to teach about patriarchy and change in a pre-industrial, post- revolutionary society. It shares, with the best fiction, mystery and revelation. A River called Time transports the reader to an island in which past, present and future co-exist, and the dead retain a vociferous presence." - The Independent

"To read Mia Couto is to encounter a peculiarily African sensibility, a writer of fluid, fragmentary narratives ... remarkable." - New Statesman

Praise for David Brookshaw

"David Brookshaw dexterously renders the novel's often colloquial, pithy Portuguese into lively English. Brookshaw's task is made more exacting by the particular quality of Couto's brilliance" - New York Times

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Product Details

Publication date:
Biblioasis International Translation Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

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