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The Housekeeper and the Professor (edition 2009)

by Yoko Ogawa

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1,9681713,449 (3.96)350
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
Tags:None

Work details

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)
  3. 00
    The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano (DetailMuse)
  4. 00
    Translucent Tree by Nobuko Takagi (marietherese)
  5. 00
    Naoko: A Novel 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.
  6. 02
    The History of Love: A Novel by Nicole Krauss (Becchanalia)
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» See also 350 mentions

English (161)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  Swedish (1)  Japanese (1)  All (171)
Showing 1-5 of 161 (next | show all)
I had bought this book for one of my best friends on a trip to Germany. It always seemed weird to me that I had bought a Japanese book from a german bookstore but back then it was hard to find Japanese literature. My apprehension about this book grew when I read the back cover. It had to do with numbers. Oy. Math and I? We are sworn enemies. All throughout my entire career as a student I hated numbers with a passion. Never understood them, never followed the rationale behind them. To this day I cringe whenever someone mentions probabilities and matrices.

I didn’t know I could handle an entire book about a mathematician.

I’m glad I gave it a go. It was a sweet, kind read. Nothing fussy, nothing angst-ridden, just this quiet sadness that permeates this world we inhabit for 180 pages. The professor cannot remember anything for more than 80 minutes. It’s really heartbreaking. However, seeing how the housekeeper and her son managed to connect with him through numbers was perfect and adorable.

The ending did leave me a bit hanging. Maybe because I didn’t want it to end or maybe because it felt so abrupt.

Whatever the case, if you’re looking for an endearing and easy read, this is the way to go. ( )
  lapiccolina | Jun 23, 2017 |
Elegant, serene, and spare novel about how kindness and accommodation make a family out of three lonely people in modern Japan. Ogawa puts words on a page with nary a misstep as naturally as walkers put one foot in front of the other. This reader felt only a sense of regret when I closed the book and left the peace, humanity, and grace that I'd shared living beside the Housekeeper, the Professor, and 10-year-old Root.

Ogawa seamlessly melds number theory, relationships, and baseball into a story of encompassing love that shelters a math genius left with only 80 minutes of short term memory, his tireless and generous housekeeper, and her Japan Tigers-loving son. In assured straight-forward prose, the author soon has three characters with seemingly nothing in common discovering that their lives mesh. Each of them have gifts of understanding and compassion, of pupil and teacher, of caregiver and recipient that make them stronger individually and as a "family." Together they embody the beauty of triangular numbers.

After all, Fermat's Theorem, in part, says that every positive integer is the sum of at most three triangular numbers. And at least, they are arranged most positively in this novel.

Ogawa is a gem of a writer and I look forward to reading more of her fiction. ( )
  Limelite | May 24, 2017 |
Oh, I loved this gentle little book, and could hardly put it down. A young single mother goes to work as a housekeeper for a professor who has gone through nine other housekeepers before her. The professor is a brilliant mathematician, but since a traumatic brain injury years ago, retains only 80 minutes of new memory. The professor's daily life is bewildering and frightening. His suit is covered with notes he has written to himself of things he will need to remember, the most important of which is "My memory only lasts 80 minutes." The housekeeper is determined to care for him, despite the unusual circumstances. Uncomfortable with anyone new (which is everyone he has met since his accident), he relates to people through numbers (What is your birthday? Your phone number? Your weight at birth?), and shares elegant and fascinating information about the math of those numbers. The housekeeper, who dropped out of high school to have her son, is daunted by the math until she realizes that the professor's greatest joy is sharing his knowledge and his patient teaching. When the professor discovers that she has a young son, he insists he come there after school. He becomes the boy's champion and teacher, and the boy becomes his greatest and only friend.

The book is sweet, touching, and lovely. Junot Diaz writes in a cover blurb "I've been telling everyone about this book. It's a story about love, which is quite different from a love story. It's one of the most beautiful novels." It is so beautiful. A loving examination of love and family and math. Highly recommended.
1 vote AMQS | Feb 21, 2017 |
This is a gently, lyrics story that deals with memory, family, and what makes a good life. With only an 80 minute window of memory, the Professor is stuck in a loop of uncertainty. He clings to his numbers, his beautiful mathematics, for security. The Housekeeper, a woman whose life is closed and colorless, learns from him about a wider place for the soul, and his relationship with her son opens the world for both the Professor and the boy. The math, woven like a scarlet thread through the story, adds an interesting tone to the narrative.
While I enjoyed this book, it didn’t strike me as deep as others, or perhaps, as I expected. It is a good story: gentle, pleasing, peaceful. It’s an excellent read for a quiet rainy day, with a cup of tea at your side. But I did not find the magic of the narrative that others described. Worth reading, even so. ( )
  empress8411 | Jan 19, 2017 |
Excellent read. The Professor taught mathematics at university but had a car accident that left him with a short-term memory of 80 minutes. He could remember the past but not the present. He has gone through a variety of housekeepers. One is hired and she stays. When the professor finds out she has a son, he has her bring the boy with her. A relationship is forged between them.

I enjoyed how the housekeeper learns math so that she can understand what the professor is talking about. She learns that the math has a larger range on life and through it she learns to understand the professor. Her son and the professor connect over homework and baseball. I liked how the math, baseball, and life converged around the three of them. Even after the job ends, the housekeeper keeps involved in the professor's life as did her son.

This is a book that stays with you after you close the pages. Unfortunately, I have to return it to the library. ( )
  Sheila1957 | Dec 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 161 (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 (39 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Yoko Ogawaprimary authorall editionscalculated
Snyder, StephenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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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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