by Yoko Ogawa. I remember watching half a movie on a plane which was called “The Gift of Numbers” (Hakase No Aishita Sushiki) and was based on the 2004 Japanese novel by Ogawa. Since then, I place the book in my to read list and it so happened that two weeks ago, I read a review of the book on the Sunday times. Apparently, the english translation just appeared under this new title and it turned out fortuitously that the library carried this book.
The story of the book is about how the housekeeper was assigned to this number theory professor who had an accident, lost his short term memory and only retained 80 mins of memory. To remind himself, he pinned a note on his clothes that says “I have only 80 minutes of memory.” It’s an interesting proposition to say the least, but what is engaging is the relationship developed between the professor, the housekeeper and her son called Root because he has a flat head. There was only a very brief and subtle exploration into the anguish of the professor at his state.
There are quite some mathematics mentioned by the professor, for example, on amicable numbers, Ruth-Aaron numbers 714 and 715, as well as the perfect number 28 which happened to be the shirt number of the professor’s favourite baseball player Yutaka Enatsu.
For another review see Math fiction.