The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
Published in: 2003
Translated from Japanese by: Stephen Snyder
Reviewed by: Jen
Rating: 5 stars
Find it here:The Housekeeper and the Professor
Every once in a while a book comes along that takes you by surprise. The Housekeeper and the Professor was one of those books for me. At only 180 pages the novel is short, simple, but emotionally touching and beautifully rendered. I picked this up because it has started to make the rounds in some of my reading circles. It was worth the buzz.
The book tells the story of a beautiful friendship between a housekeeper, her son, and a mathematics professor. In his youth, the Professor was involved in a tragic accident that resulted in his developing a form of anterograde amnesia. While he remembers events and people from prior to his accident, he is unable to encode new information. Every morning brings new introductions with the same questions. He wears a suit covered with pieces of paper to help him remember important facts. He spends his days immersed in mathematics, solving problems and sending them to various papers. When the Housekeeper is hired to take care of the Professor and his home, she and her 10 year old son become immersed in the Professor’s world of numbers. They grew to love the Professor and they learn to work around his memory deficits.
I found this to be a wonderful book. You can’t help but love the characters, especially the quirky Professor who makes math seem like the most exciting subject in the world. There are many math equations throughout the book but they are easy to follow and understand and they are integral to the emotions and events in the story. Who knew that math could be so interesting? The writing was simple and elegant but unpretentious. Not much happens in the way of plot because this is not a book about fast-paced adventures but rather one about quiet moments and meditation. I cried a little and smiled a lot. This was a special book that makes you contemplate the importance of living in the moment and appreciating the present. I highly recommend this book!
Have you read this book? If so, what did you think? If not, does it appeal to you?
Want to try it for yourself? You can buy a copy here: The Housekeeper and the Professor