The Housekeeper and the Professor (by Yoko Ogawa) c. 2009

Summary: The professor once taught mathematics, but a terrible car accident has left him with only 80 minutes of memory. He remembers clearly his life and world from before, but only that brief snapshot of the present. The housekeeper is a young mother with a ten-year old son, hired to care for the professor each day. As the housekeeper and her son are pulled into the professor’s world of mathematics and baseball, a strange but meaningful relationship grows between them.

Review: It does not sound like a lot to build a story around, and indeed this is a very short book at a mere 180 pages. Anything longer would have been disastrous. It is a very hard book to describe, honestly, and literary in a very Japanese way. Like a lot of classical Japanese poetry that has strayed across my path, it is weighted with symbolism and contemplation of life in the world in virtually every sentence. It’s a bit like ‘Magic Eye’ puzzles (which I’ve always struggled to see absolutely anything in) though I did manage to pick up enough to enjoy this book. If that sort of puzzle work outside a mystery novel gives you a headache, then take a pass on this. It’s a testament to the translator that the intricacies of the novel are relayed as well as they are. If you abhor Math, Baseball or books where virtually nothing about the actually story is just given to the reader, this is not for you. If you can tolerate those three, however, this is a beautiful and deep read. Just not one that is going to be for every reader.

Read-a-likes: For those that enjoy the math and the light setting, No One You Know by Michelle Richmond is worth a look. For reader’s caught by the unique relationship between caregiver and patient, You’re Not You by Michelle Wildgen and One True Thing by Anna Quindlen are worth a peak.

Availability: This title is available from the Lake Bluff Public Library as a book.  Clear here to check on the availability!

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One thought on “The Housekeeper and the Professor (by Yoko Ogawa) c. 2009

  1. Pingback: Lake Bluff Library Staff’s Top Reads of 2010 « What to Check Out Next…

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