Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Housekeeper and the Professor - Yoko Ogawa

Old Professor, add to the woes he has lost to remember things, due to an accident way back in the 70s. His current memory last only 80 mins, and he can not remember anything beyond 80min. The near time memory is as of 1975 just before his accident.

The house keeper was assigned to help this doctor after the 9th person left the job, by her agency. The sister- in- law of the professor, who live the next door, gave the instructions to the new housekeeper and asked not to be disturbed. The routine is fairly simple, to keep the home clean and cook food for the professor, who spent majority of his time in the study.

The initial interaction was very interesting, asking for her date of birth and linking to the day and noting that these two are 'amicable numbers'. The initial curiosity grew into learning about the wizards, who spent his time, solving puzzles for International magazines, winning prices ( but never cashing them). Through her inquisitiveness and the professors interest, the new world of mathematics is opened in front of her, A school drop out, she now try solving puzzles herself..

Soon her son joins her in the evening on the insistence of the professor, (a young boy should never be left alone in the house) , whom he calls roots, for the flat surface of the boys head, Now, the professor has a company, whose return from school he waits in anticipation. There are definite progress in the professors life, having a hair cut and look clean, learning table manners, and most importantly, developing few human feelings. The homework is now the joint responsibility.

But, the going is not smooth as it seems.. the doctor fell ill following an outing to a baseball match. She was unceremoniously ousted from that place and was replaced by a new house keeper by the agency on the advise of the sister-in-law. Well, the rest can be guessed by anyone...

While the book was interesting in the initial pages and soon it got into the predictable path. I found bored beyond 50 odd pages of the same sequence. While the premise is exciting and the subject is great, somehow the book did not strike a chord with me. I have heard high recommendations for her books, but this was not the case with this book. I prefer "Uncle Petros and Goldbach's conjecture' to this one.


The House Keeper and The Professor ( 2003)

Yoko Ogawa ( translated from Japanese by Stephen Snyder 2008)

Vintage Books

180 Pages

Other Reviews : Complete-Review , NY Times

No comments: