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Extended Audio Sample The Piano Tuner: A Novel Audiobook, by Daniel Mason Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (5,401 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Daniel Mason Narrator: Graeme Malcolm Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2002 ISBN: 9780739302033
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An extraordinary first novel that tells the story of a British piano tuner sent deep into Burma in the nineteenth century.

In October 1886, Edgar Drake receives a strange request from the British War Office: he must leave his wife and his quiet life in London to travel to the jungles of Burma, where a rare Erard grand piano is in need of repair. The piano belongs to an army surgeon-major whose unorthodox peacemaking methods—poetry, medicine, and now music—have brought a tentative quiet to the southern Shan States but have elicited questions from his superiors.

On his journey through Europe, the Red Sea, India, and into Burma, Edgar meets soldiers, mystics, bandits, and tale-spinners, as well as an enchanting woman as elusive as the surgeon-major. And at the doctor’s fort on a remote Burmese river, Edgar encounters a world more mysterious and dangerous than he ever could have imagined.

Sensuous, lyrical, rich with passion and adventure, this is a hypnotic tale of myth, romance, and self-discovery: an unforgettable novel.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Thoroughly engaging, an excellent early-21st-century reproduction of a late Victorian novel… [Mason] renders [Burma] and its culture brilliantly. His powerful prose style and his ability to embrace history, politics, nature and medicine within a fully imagined 19th-century fictional world would be notable in any writer and are astonishing in one who is just 26…The reader finds an excellent guide to the wonders and sorrows of another place and time. Andrea Barrett, The New York Times Book Review
  • “A rattling good story, complex characterizations, and a brilliantly realized portrayal of an alien culture–all combine to dazzling effect in this first by a California medical student who has worked and studied in the Far East. Piano tuner Edgar Drake undertakes his journey (thrillingly described), arriving at the inland fortress where the suave Dr. Anthony Carroll–part Albert Schweitzer, part Mistah Kurtz of Heart of Darkness–rules as a benevolent despot, aided by a beautiful Burmese woman to whom Edgar finds himself increasingly attracted. A wealth of information–musical, medical, historical, political–and numerous colorfully detailed vignettes of life in Burma’s teeming cities and jungle villages provide a solid context for the intricate plot, which brings Drake into ‘complicity’ with Carroll’s visionary dream…until the powerful denouement [and the] deeply ironic climactic action. (One keeps thinking of what a marvelous movie The Piano Tuner might make.) . . . An irresistible amalgam of Kipling, Rider Haggard, and Conrad at their very best. Masterful. Kirkus
  • [The Piano Tuner] ends, inevitably, in tragedy, but the reader will regret that it ends at all. This is an utterly involving first novel, rich in historical detail. Mason’s language is at once tropically lush and as precise as a Bach prelude. A novel for readers of literary and popular fiction alike; highly recommended. Library Journal
  • An ambitious, adventuresome, highly unusual first novel that offers pleasures too rarely encountered in contemporary American literary fiction…[Mason is] a gifted, original and courageous writer. Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World
  • A strange, often beautiful story…full of haunting, gorgeous scenes…With a deft hand [and] trills of wit and suspense, Mason delivers a timely critique of the self-justifying nature of military action. In these troubled times, it’s a tune you can’t get out of your head...A smart, entertaining adventure. Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor
  • An extraordinary piece of work. The Piano Tuner is a novel of journeys and the shifting grounds of perception, but at heart it is a story of the human urge to be absorbed fully into life, to cease to be a bystander, to be thrust into the essential dreamscape of human strivings. Daniel Mason's debut is shining and striking. He transported me thoroughly, well beyond the initial reading. Days later, the scenes shift and stir and agitate within me. This is writing of deep potency and resonance. Of beauty and pain and all things in between. Jeffrey Lent, author of In the Fall and Lost Nation
  • Daniel Mason has woven together an elegant and unusually engrossing story, one that offers the reader the best possible journey–into a world that no longer exists. Rich, atmospheric, and evocative of the sights, smells and textures of 19th century Burma, The Piano Tuner is an astonishingly accomplished first novel. I truly enjoyed it. Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha


  • One of the 2002 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction
  • Nominated for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christine Christman | 2/20/2014

    " An interesting journey to another time and place. Was it hubris, love, or blind trust that led the protagonist to this place? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cally | 2/18/2014

    " I enjoyed the historical component and reading about the beauty of Myramar. The ending didn't seem to fit with the rest of the novel. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Phyllis | 2/2/2014

    " I loved this book! It draws you in with a sweet seduction. Keep aware of the beggining quote re The Lotus Eaters. Complicated and layered you will keep thinking of this book for awhile. Writing is supberb and it was written by a medical student while he was studying or interning. How is that possible?? I ask myself. The guy is brilliant and he wrote this when he was 22,23? I'm looking forward to A Far Country, another of his novels written about 4-5 years later. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alyssa | 1/23/2014

    " Slow read, was pretty dissapointed with the ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Candice | 1/23/2014

    " Really enjoyed this book! It was mysterious, interesting, historical, passionate and had a very unusual premise. I thought the book may only appeal to men when I first picked it up but was wrong. Definitely recommend it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mireille | 1/14/2014

    " Beautifully written book in Colonial Birma. The end was a bit of a deflation. Otherwise a wonderful descriptive book! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dee | 1/12/2014

    " I read this book for both the Monterey Library Literary Circle and for another group. I loved it until the end, then was disappointed. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sue | 1/12/2014

    " I found this book quite heavy going. I wasn't particularly sure where the plot was going as it was slow moving. I finished it 12 hours ago and I'm still trying to work out exactly what it was about - colonialism, Darwinism, betrayal, misunderstanding, naievety? All of those, I suspect but written in such a way that I wasn't gripped. The historical aspect was interesting, especially the history of the piano itself, for me, but too slow to really hold my attention. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lauren.gavin | 1/8/2014

    " loved the setting in colonial Burma. plot reminded me of "heart of Darkness", but otherwise interesting read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Just Me | 12/27/2013

    " Oh. Well. I wanted this book to be better than it was. Mostly, I was confused and underwhelmed. It had the potential of being really good, but it wasn't. Lots of flowery descriptions but without substance or a real ending. Sigh. I seem to be going through a period of disappointing books right now. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jane | 12/19/2013

    " I'd probably rate this three and a half. I did enjoy it but sometimes felt it got a bit bogged down with detailed military manoeuvers within Burma in the 1800s. Loved the descriptions of his trip out to Burma and his impressions and reaction to the places he visited. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Carol Rykaczewski | 12/5/2013

    " Almost didn't get through it. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 AnnMarie Johnson | 6/23/2013

    " I couldn't stand this book. I read a few dozen pages, then skipped to the end to see what happened. I shouldn't have bothered. I almost never stop reading a book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michele Gorman | 3/11/2013

    " This was a very engaging story, and one I can highly recommend! I cared what happened to the main character from the first page to the last. It was definitely a page turner. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amy LaMere | 2/1/2013

    " Quite interesting - I learned about Burma, piano tuning and British Colonialism. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rebecca | 10/14/2012

    " It had such a promising beginning, so vibrant and exotic... it is such a shame about the end. It wasn't a fully realized book in my opinion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Monica Wilson | 9/27/2012

    " Interesting story, good background on the country of Burma (Myanmar) and also the history of pianos. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 8/29/2012

    " I found this book fascinating, but I hated the ending. I ruined the book for me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathy | 11/12/2011

    " Nice imagery, interesting to contemplate after reading, but not uplifting in the end. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gordon | 11/7/2011

    " the ending spoiled an otherwise good book "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Danielle Krause | 10/31/2011

    " Beautiful and descriptive prose, but the story was slow and the ending predictable. I struggled to find any character development beyond that which was shoved in your face. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Henary | 7/1/2011

    " This was a book I found on a nightstand of a room I was staying in when I was visiting my grandparents. It was an interesting story that was well-written.

    I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but it was a good read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Snickerdoodlemom | 6/27/2011

    " A highly praised book but I didn't care for it - except for the information I learned about Burma. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 V_madridista | 6/27/2011

    " The story was engaging if not overly entertaining but when I got to the end I was left utterly disappointed. I guess I just couldn't understand why he made the choice he did. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 6/1/2011

    " Ooooh this was a pleasure to read. I had been reading Madame Bovary, and Mason's Burma was just where I wanted to be. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jean | 5/26/2011

    " Set in the late 19 century, a British piano tuner receives a commission from the British War Office to travel to the remote jungles of northeast Burma and repair a rare piano who belongs to a army surgeon. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Donna | 5/15/2011

    " A bit too much description. I skipped whole pages, especially offical military reports, but I cared about the characters and wanted to know what happened to them. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Lori | 4/29/2011

    " I really didn't like the ending of this story. I liked the historical aspect of the book, but it just couldn't get into it much at all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan | 4/27/2011

    " Heart of Darkness with a Piano, and without the heads chopped off "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lily | 4/7/2011

    " Taking a piano deep into Victorian India. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wog | 3/29/2011

    " Lyrical, haunting, evocative. Reminds me of Conrad's Heart of Darkness in many ways. Five years after first reading the book, I still remember phrases, scenes. Truly one of the best books I have ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 3/25/2011

    " Listening to the audio version during my commute. "

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About the Author
Author Daniel MasonDaniel Mason received his bachelor's degree in biology from Harvard in 1998 and spent a year studying malaria on the Thai and Myanmar border, where much of The Piano Tuner was written. He is currently a medical student at the University of California, San Francisco.
About the Narrator

Graeme Malcolm is an actor and Earphones Award–winning audiobook narrator. He has performed on Broadway as Pharaoh in Aida and as Sir Edward Ramsay in The King and I. His television appearances include Law & Order, Follow the River, and Mr. Halpern and Mr. Johnson (with Laurence Olivier). His film credits include A Further Gesture, The Adventures of Sebastian Cole, and Reunion.