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The Housekeeper and the Professor (2003)

by Yoko Ogawa

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,7302004,188 (3.98)429
He is a brilliant maths professor with a peculiar problem - ever since a traumatic head injury seventeen years ago, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.She is a sensitive but astute young housekeeper who is entrusted to take care of him.Each morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are reintroduced to one another, a strange, beautiful relationship blossoms between them. The Professor may not remember what he had for breakfast, but his mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. He devises clever maths riddles - based on her shoe size or her birthday - and the numbers reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her ten-year-old son. With each new equation, the three lost souls forge an affection more mysterious than imaginary numbers, and a bond that runs deeper than memory.… (more)
  1. 92
    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. 11
    The Summer Book by Tove Jansson (pitjrw)
    pitjrw: Unusual, beautiful relationships between the old and young
  4. 00
    The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano (DetailMuse)
  5. 00
    Translucent Tree by Nobuko Takagi (marietherese)
  6. 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.
  7. 02
    The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (Becchanalia)
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» See also 429 mentions

English (190)  Spanish (4)  French (3)  German (2)  Italian (1)  Dutch (1)  Japanese (1)  Catalan (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (204)
Showing 1-5 of 190 (next | show all)
This was a beautifully written book with great characters. It was a moving description of the relationship between people despite the difficulties of a mental disability. It makes the reader think about friendship and how you can know the people that you love, even if you can't remember them. It was a sweet story that the perfect feel good read for stressful times. ( )
  Cora-R | Feb 11, 2022 |
A heartwarming story. What I remember is the kindness the characters show towards one another. The housekeeper tries not to remind the professor that he has only a memory of 80 mins. The professor is kind towards the housekeeper's son, Root, who reciprocates with unwavering trust. Even when the professor has to be admitted to an institution, the housekeeper and his son continue to visit him monthly, even though the professor no longer remembers them. ( )
  siok | Jan 30, 2022 |
A beautiful and unusual story about a mathematics professor who received a brain injury in an accident many years ago and whose memory now cycles in 80 minute lengths of time. He remembers everything pre-accident but post-accident only remembers within 80 minute windows of time. A new housekeeper is assigned to look after him during the day and she resolves to get to know him better than the previous housekeepers (who never lasted very long). Each morning she has to introduce herself again - by answering questions with mathematical answers, such as her shoe size, date of birth, and so on - but despite this fresh start every day she seems able to build a rapport and provide some stability in his daily routine. Can her baseball-loving 10-year-old son help to bring him out of his shell further?

The story features a lot of maths, demonstrating a beauty in numbers I hadn't previously given much consideration to. It's beautifully written (and translated) and might be an interesting read for teenagers considering pursuing maths, or even for young adults who love to read but who are struggling to make a connection with maths. In a way the book reminds me of Gaarder's Sophie's World and yet the science is a lot more gentle and subtle in this novel. Highly recommended for all readers who enjoy a thoughtful, gentle read. ( )
1 vote ArdizzoneFan | Jan 14, 2022 |
This book is about a brilliant math professor that needs the help of the housekeeper to take care of him as he is getting older. His memory only lasts 80 minutes which poses a challenge for the housekeeper and her son, Root. This heartfelt book follows the everyday challenges posed by the diminishing memory of the professor and the ever-growing friendship from Root and the Professor, nonetheless. I would keep this book on the shelves in my middle school classroom. It is a beautiful book that is an easy read, but interesting enough to stay engaged and reading. ( )
  Teagan.Mies | Nov 5, 2021 |
Slight, pleasant, good if you like math puzzles. My book group all loved it, I found it fairly meh. The whole book hinged on the developing relationship of a housekeeper with someone with anterograde amnesia and a memory of 80 minutes, but any such relationship would be a one-sided illusion, something I don't think was properly explored. Either the writing or the translation made the prose artless and it read like a children's book. Apparently sold 4 million copies in Japan. ( )
  adzebill | Nov 4, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 190 (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 (48 possible)

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

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We called him the Professor.
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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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Wikipedia in English (2)

He is a brilliant maths professor with a peculiar problem - ever since a traumatic head injury seventeen years ago, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.She is a sensitive but astute young housekeeper who is entrusted to take care of him.Each morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are reintroduced to one another, a strange, beautiful relationship blossoms between them. The Professor may not remember what he had for breakfast, but his mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. He devises clever maths riddles - based on her shoe size or her birthday - and the numbers reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her ten-year-old son. With each new equation, the three lost souls forge an affection more mysterious than imaginary numbers, and a bond that runs deeper than memory.

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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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