A charming and skillful story

April 29, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Posted in Award winners, Great for Book Clubs, Middle Weight Fiction, The Housekeeper and The Professor | 6 Comments

‘The Housekeeper and the

Professor’

Yoko Ogawa April 2009

A brilliant old mathematician lives alone in his run down two roomed house in Japan on his sister-in-law’s property. Due to an accident in 1975 he has lost his power to create new memories. He cannot remember anything for longer than eighty minutes and so still believes it is 1975. But he does remember the mathematics he studied prior to the accident and living in this abstract manner comes to be his saving grace.

A housekeeper is dispatched by her agency to work for the old man taking care of his home and meals. She is a single parent to a young boy and the trio come to share a deep and tender relationship within the limits of the old man’s disability. The tenderness and empathy the housekeeper and her son develop towards the old man quickly surpass the boundaries of their professional relationship with him and as with many a good novel there are consequences to this.

In this beautifully evocative novel empathy finds its place between each of the characters own fragility. The writing allows the plot to develop naturally and the abstract nature of number theory creates another depth to the story. The evocation of Japan and it’s food is very moving as is the story’s natural flow showing Yoko Ogawa’s skill as a writer.

This was originally published in Japan under the title The Professor’s Beloved Equation (博士の愛した数式 and sold four million copies. It is a charming jewel of a read.

Click here to reserve this book from a DLR Library

Haiku; Maths and memories, create a tender novel, all readers it will please

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