Tuesday, March 3, 2009

36 - The Housekeeper and the Professor; Yoko Ogawa

The Housekeeper and the Professor: A Novel, by Yoko Ogawa is such an amazing book. The book is only 180 pages but once I began reading it, I was unable to put the book down.

In Japan a brilliant mathematician is involved in a car accident in 1978 and is left with a traumatic head injury. The injury has left him with just 80 minutes of short term memory. Despite this, he has never lost his love for numbers and complex mathematical equations.

One day an Housekeeping Agency sends a 9th housekeeper out to cook, clean and care for the professor, since none of the other housekeepers have worked out. The young housekeeper is a single mother of a 10 year old son. When the professor first meets the young boy he calls him: Root because his flat head reminds him of the math symbol for a square root. (It's strange, but no one in this book has a name except for Root). The professor before long grows to care deeply care for this fatherless boy, and the housekeeper seeing this soon begins to fall into a routine as the professor's housekeeper. Root comes to the professor’s house after school and they work on math homework together and share a fondness for baseball games.

A strange but beautiful relationship begins for these individuals. The story is funny yet bitter sweet. Every morning the housekeeper, has to introduce herself and her son to the professor as if they were meeting for the first time. He asks her the same questions when he does not know what to say: what is her age, her shoe size and her telephone number. When she tells him the numbers he responds with something mathematical and quite profound about the numbers.

The characters in this story are so likable, the writing is beautiful. The Housekeeper and the Professor: A Novel is a wonderful story about unlikely relationships, and how it is really the simple things that make life worthwhile.

RATING - 5/5 - COMPLETED - 3/3/09


  1. You've read some great books recently! I've got this one on my wishlist already, and am looking forward to receiving it soon.

  2. This one sounds really good. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  3. I hadn't heard of this one before, but it sounds great!

  4. This does sound good! I have another of Yoko Ogawa's on my TBR shelf right now and am looking forward to reading it. Great review!

  5. I've heard about this one, and it does sound good...thanks for the review!

  6. Just read/reviewed this one today & also loved it! So simply rendered, yet so poignant.

  7. Great review! Your mention that no one except Root has a name - I didn't notice it until one of the discussion points in the back of the book brought it up. (I didn't notice this in Rebecca either until book club discussion.)


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