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Listening to the Silence

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The Owl Killers
Karen Maitland
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Daniel James Brown
Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell

The Housekeeper and the Professor

The Housekeeper and the Professor - Yōko Ogawa, Stephen Snyder The Professor suffered a tragic accident that left his brain unable to remember anything beyond the date of the accident, in 1975. His short term memory is reduced to 80 minute loops and as a result he had to give up his career as a mathematician to live off the kindness of his brother's widow in a small cottage. The relationship he forms with his housekeeper and her son is his only friendship, but it also has deep meaning for them as well, completely changing the way both of them look at the world.

I have to say, I was quite impressed with the author's ability to tell this story. It's such a unique plot element to write a character who has such limited capabilities when it comes to his brain and memory, yet on the other end of the spectrum has math skills that would blow you away. What I loved most about this story however, was how math itself became a character. I never would have thought it would be possible to weave actual mathematical formulas, equations, and theories so seamlessly into a story that was ultimately about relationships. Stylistically the writing was exactly what I enjoy most, spare and precise, with no extra language and descriptions to distract the reader from what was being said. It was beautiful, emotional, and made me consider the world in a new way. I would have liked to delve a little more into the Professor's relationship with the sister-in-law, but that is my only complaint about an otherwise beautiful novel.