Friday, February 27, 2009

New This Month: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

Think 50 First Dates without all the zany antics or Memento without the buckets of blood and you have the central conceit of The Housekeeper and the Professor (Picador) the latest translation from contemporary Japanese literary icon Yoko Ogawa.

The title’s Professor is a brilliant mathematician whose mind is stuck in the 1970s and whose short-term memory is only 80 minutes long. The Professor shows the Housekeeper the poetry in numbers and the magic in the everyday.

While The Housekeeper and the Professor lacks some of the controlled madness that spiked Ogawa’s previous translation, the short story collection The Diving Pool, there is a certain sweet delicacy here -- a sure hand, a subtle touch -- that gives this novella more resonance than its slight stature would indicate.

The Housekeeper and the Professor was first published in 2003 in Japan where it has sold 2.5 million copies and been adapted into a feature film.

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