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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


The Tuner of Silences

Mia Couto

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To purchase The Tuner of Silences

Title: The Tuner of Silences
Author: Mia Couto
Genre: Novel
Written: 2009 (Eng. 2012)
Length: 230 pages
Original in: Portuguese
Availability: The Tuner of Silences - US
The Tuner of Silences - UK
The Tuner of Silences - Canada
The Tuner of Silences - India
L'accordeur de silences - France
Jesusalén - España
  • Portuguese title: Jesusalém
  • Translated by David Brookshaw

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Our Assessment:

B : starkly poetic

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Libération . 25/8/2011 Alain Nicolas

  From the Reviews:
  • "Le roman se construit ainsi sur un jeu de bascule entre énigme et solution, mensonge et vérité, qui obéit à une temporalité très particulière." - Alain Nicolas, Libération

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Most of The Tuner of Silences is narrated by the boy Mwanito, the tuner of silences of the title. He is raised by his father in a small community the old man calls Jezoosalem, established in an abandoned game reserve deep in the African countryside.
       Jezoosalem is no new Eden; instead, it's: "a wasteland inhabited only by five men". It is a place of new identities -- all except Mwanito are given or take on new names here, with the father, Mateus Ventura reborn as Silvestre Vitalício. The father has done everything to cut them off from the world -- and from the wound of the memory of his wife, Mwanito's mother. Her fate, which Mwanito eventually learns, is central to much of the novel -- and is clearly behind the father's desperate descent into madness.
       As Mwanito reveals in the opening lines of his story: "I was eleven years old when I saw a woman for the first time". The woman is Marta, who comes from Portugal to look for her missing husband, Marcelo. Her arrival changes the dynamics at Jezoosalem -- and ultimately leads the characters beyond it -- and leads to a variety of revelations, as Marta comes learn what happened to her husband, and Mwanito learns what happened to his mother.
       Silvestre is a domineering father to Mwanito and his older brother, Ntunzi, and doesn't even want to allow Mwanito to learn how to write and read; communication is obviously a problem for the old man -- hence also his embrace of his son as 'a tuner of silences': "Come here, son, and help me be quiet", he asks. Not surprisingly, much of what Mwanito learns from Marta comes in written, rather than spoken form.
       A poetic novel of damaged souls in a damaged country, The Tuner of Silences is an eloquent tale of loss.

- M.A.Orthofer, 3 March 2013

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The Tuner of Silences: Reviews: Mia Couto: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Mozambican author Mia Couto was born in 1955.

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© 2013 the complete review

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