The Housekeeper and the Professor is one of the best books that I’ve read this year. Yoko Ogawa skillfully tells the story of a single mother who works as a housekeeper taking care of an aging, brilliant mathematics professor who has suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident many years earlier, that has left him with just 80 minutes of working memory. The narrative cleverly weaves together the professor’s infectious passion for mathematics, with his love of baseball and mentoring young children, while showcasing the fragility of his existence on the fringe of Japanese society. Told from the empathetic perspective of the simple housekeeper, the story is heartwarming yet at times tragically exposes the confusion and frustration wrought by the limitations of the professor’s ephemeral memory.
The mathematical aspect of The Housekeeper and the Professor was particularly enjoyable for me as a engineer and mathematics enthusiast. Ogawa seamlessly integrates numbers and real mathematical concepts such as Fermat’s conjecture and Euler’s equation into the narrative which gives it an added layer of authenticity. In short, the Housekeeper and the Professor is a light read which I feel is accessible and enjoyable by everyone.
***One burning question I have after reading The Housekeeper and the Professor is who invented the number zero? (Surprisingly, even Google can’t seem to offer a clear answer!)
Have you read The Housekeeper and the Professor? or any of Yoko Ogawa’s other writings? What are your thoughts after reading this book? What do you find most captivating about her writing? Thank you as always for stopping by! Please feel free to share your thoughts or reactions in a comment below. Also, if you would like to receive more updates about my writing please consider joining my newsletter mailing list by subscribing below.