The Forest of Wool and Steel by Natsu Miyashita

Whimsical, hypnotic, mysterious… enter the world of The Forest of Wool and Steel by Natsu Miyashita. 

As he presses down on the keys, the scent of warm earth and whispering leaves rises up in my mind, drifting from beneath the open lid of the piano. 

As a student, Tomura hears a tuner working on his school’s piano in a gymnasium, and his life is changed forever. The first notes conjure images of forests rising among mountains, and an uncertain future suddenly crystalises: Tomura knows he must become a master piano tuner as well. 
Thus begins his life’s journey, chasing the skills of creating a perfectly balanced instrument, tailored to its player. 

Despite Tomura’s self-doubts and even desperation, this story shows the astonishing possibilities of chasing a dream with all of your heart. 
Rather than having innate “talent” for knowing pitch, brightness, or tone, Tomura works hard to gain the trust of three master piano tuners and studies under their guidance. The story follows their relationships, as well as the lives of the clients whose pianos they attend to - from young learners and occasional hobbyists, to concert performers and dedicated musicians. 

The Forest of Wool and Steel is translated by Philip Gabriel, who has also translated several Haruki Murakami novels into English - so you can be assured that the writing flows effortlessly, and is beautiful and descriptive. 
In addition, it is also lovingly illustrated. Each of the five parts begins with a drawing of a grand piano. As the novel progresses, the drawings are filled out, echoing Tomura’s growth. Magically, leaves begin to stir and vines grow, until the piano sits in the glade of a pine forest. 

This novel won the 2016 award for the book which Japanese booksellers most like to hand-sell to customers, and has sold over a million copies. It was also adapted into a film of the same name. 

At 215 pages, The Forest of Wool and Steel is a short and gently paced novel, perfect for immersing readers into another person’s life for a short time. Whether you have lived your whole life around pianos, or know nothing at all – like our protagonist at the start of the book - this novel is sure to captivate. 
If you have read and enjoyed the writing of Haruki Murakami, you will definitely love reading The Forest of Wool and Steel. You can borrow a copy, in English or in Vietnamese, from the Greater Dandenong Libraries collection. 

Melina

The Forest of Wool and Steel by Natsu Miyashita
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