Painter of Silence, By Georgina Harding


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The Independent Culture

Augustin, the silent protagonist of Harding's Orange Prize shortlisted novel, is deaf and mute. After he's found on the steps of a Romanian hospital, a nurse called Safta brings him paper and pencils to draw.

Painstakingly his memories appear on the page. These memories also turn out to be Safta's who knew Augustin as a boy – the son of the cook on her family's country estate.

Augustin's pictures convey a way of life torn apart by the Second World War and the advent of Stalinism, but drawn by someone who remains outside history's loop. With dreamy restraint, this novel gently evokes a lost time and place.