The Housekeeper + The Professor

housekeeper-and-the-professor-ogawa

The addition sign in the title is no mistake, this is a book that concerns itself with Mathematics.

 As a more Humanities-minded person, I was surprised by the beauty not only of the storyline, but how Mathematics is treated by the characters. 

 The Professor’s memory lasts only 80 minutes.  The Housekeeper and her son who care for him each day somehow still manage to create a strong and beautiful bond despite the fact that it must be renewed everyday.

 Each day begins similarly, with simply questions around the numbers in the Housekeeper’s life, her birthdate, her shoe size and so on.  All these make the professor more comfortable in what must be a very awkward existence.

 The Professor finds friendship in the Housekeeper’s stubborn son, whom he affectionately calls ‘Root’ due to his flattened head that reminds him of a square root sign. The Housekeeper’s mind is caught up in the beauty of the patterns of numbers the Professor introduces her to.

 A haunting, sparse novel like so much of the modern Japanese literature I am reading these days.  It is beautiful how these authors have mastered the ‘less is best’ adage, and let the beauty of lives of their characters take centre stage.  Lovely.

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