Profesorul și menajera Book reviews


Author(s): Yōko OgawaDownload  


Romancieră, autoare a numeroase volume de proză scurtă și eseistă, recompensată cu cele mai importante premii literare din Japonia, tradusă în peste 20 de limbi, Yōko Ogawa este mai cu seamă cunoscută datorită romanului Profesorul și menajera, ecranizat în 2006 de regizorul Takashi Koizumi.Când o tânără menajeră ajunge în casa Profesorului, un matematician ilustru care își poate folosi memoria doar 80 de minute pe zi, descoperă cu mirare că unicul mod al acestuia de privi lumea este prin intermediul numerelor şi al matematicii. Relaţia dintre ei se transformă pe nesimţite într-una de înţelegere reciprocă şi empatie. Când menajera îi mărturiseşte că are un fiu de zece ani care o aşteaptă singur acasă, Profesorul îi cere să-l aducă în fiecare zi, după şcoală. Treptat, Profesorul îi iniţiază în jocurile matematice, reprezentând pentru el adevărurile supreme pe care se sprijină lumea, iar acest mod inedit şi emoţionant de comunicare reuşeşte să creeze o legătură puternică între cei trei. Menajera, Profesorul şi micul Radical vor descoperi că sentimentele pe care le nutresc unii faţă de alţii sunt atât de puternice, încât ecuaţia propriilor vieţi s-a schimbat definitiv.

Some Reviews: 5448 in


Sue rated it      

On originally reading a description of this novel I wondered if it was really for me. Did I want to read about a Professor with a memory span of 80 minutes and the Housekeeper who assists him? I’m so glad I decided to read it and I’m happy to have my own copy. This story of memory, math, building a pseudo-family where no relationship has existed before is full of love and compassion. The emotions are mostly expressed in mathematical theorems, cooking and random touch, but it is palpable throughout the book. I had to remind myself repeatedly that this is a novel, not a memoir. It feels like life, a life beautifully lived. The emotions are still high as I write this review.

The blending of the math into the arc of life is amazing. I am a math-phobe and always have been. I could feel my resistance wearing down while reading and a subtle understanding of why others love the world of numbers beginning to grow. The Professor, and the housekeeper, would be pleased.

Highly recommended for its sensitive treatment of relationships.

Addendum 1/5/13: I realize that I truly love this book and it has only risen in my esteem over time. Therefore I am going to change its rating to the 5 stars it probably should have been initially.


Robin rated it     

In comparison with Ogawa’s The Memory Police and Hotel Iris, this story is particularly gentle and sweet. Naturally, that means it didn’t grab me by the neck like her other work. But it did have its way of getting in and tugging those heartstrings.

This is a short novel about a woman (the housekeeper) who comes to care for her employer (the professor), who is a mathematical genius, but who also has a very limited short term memory (80 minutes).

Because he starts fresh every 80 minutes, the present becomes of utmost importance. The housekeeper, her young son, and the professor create beautiful times together in these 80 minute snips. During these times, he shares his deep love for numbers and their poetic, natural elegance.

While his recollection lasts 80 minutes, his impact on the housekeeper and her son is lifelong. Maybe for the fact that the friendship they extend calls on them to be selfless – any kindness is forgotten in minutes, and must be given almost anonymously, to impart temporary joy at best. There’s a purity in that.

Math and baseball feature heavily here – neither are subjects that particularly draw me. But the mysteries explored in this short book go beyond sports and numbers.

Eternal truths are ultimately invisible, and you won’t find them in material things or natural phenomena, or even in human emotions. Mathematics, however, can illuminate them, can give them expression — in fact, nothing can prevent it from doing so.

The three characters create a life together, a life built on a series of 80 minute segments. What a beautiful formula: one single mother + a ten year old boy who loves baseball + an aging mathematician with a memory problem = a family.


PorshaJo rated it     

A wonderful, heart-warming story about unlikely friendships….and math…and baseball! I decided to grab this one for my Japanese reading challenge for 2018 and it was the perfect story to begin reading. It’s heavy into math, which I must say, I’m a bit rusty on. I was at one time fascinated by numbers, going to the highest level of math courses in college, and working for my college math professor. But then…I just lost interest in numbers (as along came computers! Nerd!)

The story is of the friendship of the housekeeper and the professor. The professor had an accident some number of years ago and his memory only lasts 80 minutes. He’s quite the sight for the housekeeper, wearing a suit with post it notes pinned all over his suit to remind of things he will soon forget. He has his memory prior to the accident, but after that, it only lasts 80 minutes. But, he is a math genius and relates everything to math. When he first meets his new housekeeper, he asks her shoe size and phone number and recounting the tale of those specific numbers. And so begins their daily dance. But over time, they have an impact on one another. The housekeepers son comes around and the professor helps to teach him, the housekeeper becomes enamored by numbers, and they all share their fondness of baseball. A unlikely friendship that lasts a lifetime for the three of them.

I listened to this one via audio and it was wonderful. Cassandra Campbell is an awesome narrator and I have listened to her numerous times, and loved each narration. I also grabbed the print, which was available at my library, so I could reference when numbers and equations were discussed. I’m so happy that I picked this one up. A short, special read for anyone who is a fan of math, a fan of baseball, or who wants a really good feel, good story.

Petra-X Off having adventures

Petra-X Off having adventures rated it      

This is a beautifully-written, elegant little book about an old man, a maths professor, his housekeeper and her young son. The professor’s memory post-1975 is only 80 minutes long, so everything is fresh and new to him all the time, including the news his memory is only 80 minutes long. The housekeeper has her own problems but finds fulfillment in the relationship, ever renewed, between her son and the professor and her growing love for mathematics. It is a mark of the author’s writing that the fourth character, the linchpin of the story remains in the shadows but no more on that, otherwise I’d have to mark this with a ‘spoiler’ flag.

The book is a short read, mesmerising in its intensity and absolutely unique, I’ve never read another book even slightly like this one. Certainly I’ve never read anything about logarithms, mathematical conjectures and proofs that I ever even understood, let alone enjoyed. But now I know a bit more about maths, and wish I’d had a teacher who could have shown me the magic rather than the grind behind numbers.

Jenny (Reading Envy)

Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it      

Everyone and their mother read this last year for Women in Translation month (August 2016), and I remember finding my own copy at the annual literacy book sale. I set it aside for WIT month this year and was happy to pull it back out.

The housekeeper is a single parent, trying to make enough to live on, and the professor is a mathematician with a failing memory. The story is about connection and care but also MATH and anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for math. The professor can’t remember past 80 minutes and tries to attach little slips of paper with the important details to his robe. But he can still think in math, so that is how he connects to the people around him.

He refers to the housekeeper’s son as Root because of the shape of his hair, the flat top of the square root symbol.

I’m not much for charming books but I was still charmed by this. I guess I needed a book that showed kindness matters. And math.


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