The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason: 10/16/08

The Piano Tuner The Piano Tuner

by Daniel Mason

Mason’s novel takes place in the ethnically and militarily fractured Burma of the 1880’s. Sadly, over a hundred years later, the situation has many similarities - witness the military government’s refusal of international aid after this year’s devastating cyclone. JOS was in Burma few years ago and even then her driver would not venture into Shan territory after dark.

Our group had many questions after reading this book:

    Why did Drake stay so long ? Many readers were surprised he didn’t go right home, although a reference to the Lotus Eaters gives a clue.
    Why a piano? Why a piano tuner?
    Why didn’t Carroll ever play the piano after it was tuned?
    Was Drake a pawn from the beginning?
    Where were the other Englishmen serving with Carroll in Mae Lwin?

Many of us enjoyed the portrayal of Drake’s character: a man dedicated to and absorbed by his craft, overwhelmed by the contrast between his familiar middle class England and the seductions of Burma. But the English characters “sounded” as if they were speaking in American rhythms, and many readers found the long letters tedious. Most found the relatively abrupt ending jarring and distressing. RP started the discussion by exclaiming, “What a dirty trick!”

CD has read that Werner Herzog is developing a movie based on this book. He feels this is a perfect match, as Herzog is known for bringing “borderline crazy actors to remote locations” and pushing them to the limit for excruciatingly long times.

Daniel Mason
Daniel Mason
Danel Mason Asian Review of Books on The Piano Tuner


More about Mason & The Piano Tuner:
  • For more articles on Mason and his books, try Infotrac Onefile, available at the library, or from home
    (with a Minuteman Library Network card).