Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Housekeeper and the Professor (Yoko Ogawa)

Title: The Housekeeper and the Professor
Author: Yoko Ogawa
Translated By: Stephen Snyder
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 192
Source: Own copy
Genre: Translated Literature, Contemporary
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The Housekeeper and the Professor is the story of a brilliant math Professor who after a terrible accident lives with only eighty minutes of short-term memory and the Housekeeper who is hired to care for him.

Along with her ten year old son, whom the Professor has nicknamed Root because of his flat head reminding him of the square root sign, the Housekeeper is introduced anew to the Professor each morning and a unique relationship forms.

The premise of this book is compelling and could have made for a stunning read but unfortunately I felt this book fell short. Mathematical formulas and baseball take precedence throughout the story and although critical to the feel of the book I thought the execution resulted in a less engaging character connection and a tedious read in places. And I even liked maths at school but I still found these parts drawn out and a bit boring.

Don't get me wrong there were some beautiful parts to the book, I especially liked the details about the Professor's suit and post-it notes which he writes to himself for anything important and sticks them all over his suit and a couple of other parts later in the book such as the birthday which I don't want to mention in detail in case of spoilers. But I didn't think there was enough of those parts. I do wonder if maybe it is the translation that wasn't able to more effectively portray the feelings of these characters.

So overall it's a nice book and had huge potential but didn't quite hit the mark for me. It's a short read so feel free to give it a go as a lot of people have really liked it and I think I may be in the minority on this one.

I didn't like it but others may.

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