Yoko Ogawa: The Housekeeper and the Professor (2003)

If I had known that Yoko Ogawa’s The Housekeeper and the Professor is filled with numbers and formulas, I would not have picked it up. As I mentioned in my previous review, I do not understand mathematics at all. I would have been pretty certain that I will doze off the second I see the first number.

But I did not fall asleep. On the contrary, I enjoyed every bit of it. Whereas I was pushing myself in the last two books, this time, I was enchanted. I was only allowed to read it on my spare time – which is not that much, working my government job from eight to five and caring for my active and demanding eight-month-old, yet I still managed to finish it in three days.

The Housekeeper and the Professor is a sweet and beautiful story about an old mathematics professor whose memory lasts for only eighty minutes, a housekeeper, and her son. They bonded over baseball, food, and math. It is full of love without the romance.

The book is like a math textbook, if math textbooks are written with such passion. Although I still do not get math, the book revived in me the enchantment I felt when, back in college, a guest professor allowed us to marvel at the omniscience of numbers and formulas. The whole time I was reading the book, I was thinking how this should be how math should be taught, how every math teacher should be reading this. Maybe the passion the professor had for math will inspire the same in teachers.

The Housekeeper and the Professor is easy-to-read. It does not contain “quotable quotes” (or at least I did not think of noting down the beautiful lines I found because I wanted to keep reading). The storytelling was simple, unpretentious, and relatively short. There were no unnecessary dialogues or scenes. The scenery was picturesque. The characters, all unnamed, were human.

Right now, I am about to start reading Yoko Ogawa’s The Memory Police, but I find myself hesitating. I do not want to move on from the The Housekeeper and the Professor just yet, but I am also excited to know what awaits me. Of course, I will be reading more books in the future and maybe find better stories, but so far, this is the most charming story I have read.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s