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The Housekeeper and the Professor (edition 2009)

by Yoko Ogawa

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1,7771563,949 (3.97)327
Member:AmberRayne
Title:The Housekeeper and the Professor
Authors:Yoko Ogawa
Info:Picador (2009), Edition: Original, Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
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The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

  1. 70
    The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (labfs39, chrisharpe)
    labfs39: Both have incredibly well-drawn, quirky characters that are lovable in their unique humaness. Both have highly intelligent characters that are vulnerable because of their very gift. In both books I learned things in fields not particularly close to me: math in Housekeeper and philosophy in Elegance.… (more)
  2. 10
    A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash by Sylvia Nasar (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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  5. 00
    Naoko by Keigo Higashino (sjmccreary)
    sjmccreary: Also shows an ordinary Japanese family dealing privately with an extraordinary situation. No baseball or math, but lots of great descriptions of Japanese life.
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» See also 327 mentions

English (147)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Japanese (1)  All languages (157)
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
I'm giving it a five even if it's not perfect, because it is such a lovely, albeit sad, novel. It's one of the few novels I really enjoyed last year, and I liked it so much, I gave it to someone for Christmas (a new copy, of course.) ( )
  Karin7 | Jan 20, 2016 |
Paul Auster said fo this book, "Highly original, infinitely charming, and ever so touching." I think that is a perfect description of this week. Heavy with mathematical formulae as it relates to perfection, life, simplicity and infinity, it was a bit cumbersome at times, but full of the story of a housekeeper and her son, making it interesting and personal. The man for whom they cared was a intriguing character. I enjoyed this fast and easy read, and will list it among the most interesting premises. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
The Housekeeper and the Professor is about the relationship between the two unnamed characters and the Housekeeper’s son, only referred to by his nickname Root. The narrator, a single mother employed by the Akebono Housekeeping Agency, has just started her new job working for the Professor, a genius in mathematics who, due to an automobile accident, has a memory that only lasts 80 minutes. Every morning, the Housekeeper has to reintroduce herself to the Professor. While the Professor’s memory always fails him, numbers never do. It is the only way he can reach out to the world while everything else constantly disappears.

The success of this novel lies in the sense that numbers and their relationship to the world are special. I learned so much about math in a nice gentle way and the author was able to make numbers seem magical. The novel also works because of how fully-realized and thoroughly sympathetic the characters are. The deepening relationship between the Housekeeper, Root, and the Professor as they create a temporary family thanks to the power of numbers, the only thing the Professor can relate to, is powerful and poignant despite the failure of the Professor’s memory.

If you're looking for a warm, touching novel that focuses on relationships and caring attitudes toward your fellow human beings, then look no further. This book definitely fits the bill. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
Over twenty years before this short novel takes place the professor, a mathematical genius, was critically injured in an automobile accident which basically destroyed his short-term memory. Now his life is lived in 80 minute increments, the extent of his memory's reach since that fateful day. A young housekeeper is hired to help the professor with cleaning and meals but every morning when she arrives at work she must introduce herself to the professor again and again. He has an ingenious method of reminders - he clips notes to his suit, so much so that he is covered with bits of paper. The housekeeper has a 10 year old son who the professor has nicknamed Root because his flattop haircut looks like the square root symbol to his mathematician's eye. The professor regales the housekeeper and Root with his love of numbers and the elegance of formulas and the three form a respectful friendship that includes a mutual love of baseball. That well-loved sport lends itself to all manner of statistics, geometry, algebra and probability. Despite their different lifestyles the housekeeper and the professor have a friendship that is mutually beneficial and the strong bond between the professor and Root lasts for years.

This was a lovely book with three great characters that you can't help but like (although Root is a bit rude to his mother on occasion). I was, at times, overwhelmed by the math but on the whole I enjoyed the story very much.
( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
The Professor suffered a tragic accident that left his brain unable to remember anything beyond the date of the accident, in 1975. His short term memory is reduced to 80 minute loops and as a result he had to give up his career as a mathematician to live off the kindness of his brother's widow in a small cottage. The relationship he forms with his housekeeper and her son is his only friendship, but it also has deep meaning for them as well, completely changing the way both of them look at the world.

I have to say, I was quite impressed with the author's ability to tell this story. It's such a unique plot element to write a character who has such limited capabilities when it comes to his brain and memory, yet on the other end of the spectrum has math skills that would blow you away. What I loved most about this story however, was how math itself became a character. I never would have thought it would be possible to weave actual mathematical formulas, equations, and theories so seamlessly into a story that was ultimately about relationships. Stylistically the writing was exactly what I enjoy most, spare and precise, with no extra language and descriptions to distract the reader from what was being said. It was beautiful, emotional, and made me consider the world in a new way. I would have liked to delve a little more into the Professor's relationship with the sister-in-law, but that is my only complaint about an otherwise beautiful novel. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
Den mycket uppskattade japanska författaren Yoko Ogawa introduceras på svenska med en riktig hjärteknipare. Annat brukar det sällan bli när gamla, sjuka gubbar sammanförs med barn.
added by Jannes | editDagens Nyheter, Jonas Thente (Jan 18, 2011)
 
The narrator in Ogawa's mysterious, suspenseful, and radiant fable, the youngest housekeeper at the agency, knows that her new client will be a challenge: nine housekeepers have already been fired. But when she meets the Professor in his small cottage, she is intrigued instead of wary. A brilliant mathematician, he lives a surreal life. The elderly Professor can't remember anything after 1975. He can absorb new information and new experiences for 80 minutes at a stretch, then it is erased, and he has to start over. Quiet and kind, his jacket festooned with scraps of paper on which he writes notes to remind himself of what he always forgets, he spends his puzzling days solving highly advanced math problems and winning national contests. At long last, he has the perfect companions. The smart and resourceful housekeeper, the single mother of a baseball-crazy 10-year-old boy the Professor adores, falls under the spell of the beautiful mathematical phenomena the Professor elucidates, as will the reader, and the three create an indivisible formula for love
added by kthomp25 | editBooklist, Donna Seaman
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yoko Ogawaprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Snyder, StephenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
We called him the Professor.
Quotations
No matter how much time passed, I was always the young woman who made painfully slow progress with numbers, and my son would always be the boy who simply appeared, and was embraced.
I'm not sure why I became so absorbed in a child's math problem with no practical value. At first, I was conscious of wanting to please the Professor, but gradually that feeling faded and I realized it had become a battle between the problem and me. . . . At first, it was just a small distraction, but it quickly became an obsession. Only a few people know the mystery concealed in this formula, and the rest of us go to our graves without even suspecting there is a secret to be revealed.
But those things aren't the goal of mathematics. The only goal is to discover the truth. The Professor always said the word truth in the same tone as the word mathematics.
After all these years, I'm still at a loss for words to describe how purely the Professor loved children – except to say that it was as unchangeable and true as Euler's formula itself.
He treated Root exactly as he treated prime numbers. For him, primes were the base on which all other natural numbers relied; and children were the foundation of everything worthwhile in the adult world.
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Book description
There is actually a Japanese movie Hakase no Aishita Sushiki / The Professor and His Beloved Equation, that may be inspired by this novel.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312427808, Paperback)

He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem—ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory. 

She is an astute young Housekeeper—with a ten-year-old son—who is hired to care for the Professor. 

And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every eighty minutes), the Professor's mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son. The Professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities—like the Housekeeper's shoe size—and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away.

Yoko Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor is an enchanting story about what it means to live in the present, and about the curious equations that can create a family.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:18 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

He is a brilliant math professor, with a peculiar problem--since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only 80 minutes of short-term memory. She is an astute young housekeeper with a 10-year-old son who is hired to care for the professor. Between them, a strange, beautiful relationship blossoms.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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