Category: Yoko Ogawa

Thoughts at the half way point of The Professor + The Housekeeper

At the start I thought this book was going to fairly cold and unemotional about the relationship between a maths professor and his housekeeper.

As a result of an accident the professor can only remember things for 80 minutes and is covered with notes top jog his memory. But he manages to build a relationship with the housekeeper and introduces the single mother of a ten-year old boy to the wonderful world of numbers.

The professor takes refuge in numbers but also believes that to understand them is to get a glimpse of what is written in God’s notebook. I’m finding, even as a completely non mathematical person, that the relationship between the two is starting to become compelling as the son becomes the professor’s friend.

You want it to have a happy ending but because of the problems with the memory that seems to be very unlikely…

First impressons – The Housekeeper + The Professor

There is a feeling that i have so far encountered with Japanese literature that is really hard to describe but is there in the limited examples I have read so I will have a go at putting it into words.

The most natural way of trying to relate it is to talk about a detached way of describing the characters. The emotions are controlled and kept outside of a narrative that concentrates on telling a story in as efficient a way as possible.

So here we are introduced to the world of the professor with his 80 minute memory, resulting from a previous car crash, and the housekeeper desperate to keep her job to support her son. Numbers are the one point of conversation that unites the mathematics professor and those around him.

Although the toe has only just been dipped in this reminds you of Haruki Murakami in the way the story is told in a fairly controlled way despite the clearly emotional lives unfolding on the page.

Will wait to see how this develops…