Comments for The Housekeeper and the Professor
The Housekeeper and the Professor: 08/30/14
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa is a slim novel about an unusual friendship between a housekeeper, her son, and her employer — a retired mathematics professor who suffers from memory loss. Mixed in with the events of their unfolding friendship, are little mathematical lessons.
The Professor survives his day to day life through a long list of notes and annotations because he can only hold recent memories for about 80 minutes. To pass the time the professor works on proof contests hosted by math journals. The point isn't to win (even though there's a cash prize) — it's to keep his mind active. Math is in his blood.
The housekeeper who serves as the narrator of the story has a school aged son. He's a quiet boy and often preyed upon by bullies at school. So he comes to the Professor's house after school. The Professor becomes somewhat of a father, or maybe grandfather, figure for the boy whom he nicknames "Root."
Anyway, it's a quiet, thoughtful book. I'd recommend it to anyone with at least a passing interesting in the history of mathematics. The math problems while not crucial are fun to solve along with Root and his mother.