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The Housekeeper and the Professor

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  17,349 Ratings  ·  2,986 Reviews
Korean edition of The Housekeeper and the Professor. In 1988 author debuted by winning the Gaien New Literature Award, at 1991 won the Ahkutagawa Award, most creditable literature award in Japan, finally the 55th Yomiuri Literature Award with this novel. Distributed by Tsai Fong Books, Inc.
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Irae/Tsai Fong Books (first published 2003)
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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 througho ...more
A highly polished, smooth, shining surface of a novel that was exquisitely crafted from start to finish. The voice was so understated and matter-of-fact that I would have had little trouble believing that this was an actual account of a real housekeeper remembering her experiences. There were very few authorial flourishes and all of them were appropriately put into the mouth of the strange, afflicted Professor, a math genius whose short-term memory only lasts 80 minutes.

A premise like that can b
A light but enjoyable read that scatters numbers, and facts about the brain, rather like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time ( However, in other respects, it's very different, being set in Japan and being primarily about friendship.

The eponymous housekeeper is a young single mother (herself the only child of a single mother) with a ten-year-old son. She becomes daily housekeeper to a former maths professor whose head injury in 1975 means he
Feb 15, 2010 Trish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a quietly wonderful book. When I was reading it I really liked it. Now that some time has passed I still think of it, and any book that I still remember months after reading is a book that deserves 5 stars. Although there is some advanced math in the story the author doesn't expect the reader to understand all of it. The numbers and math are used more to show the magic of numbers and how math brings an unlikely group of people together to form meaningful relationships.
This is a characte
Mar 04, 2013 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ashley by: Yulia
I’m not sure on which page I fell in love with the wrinkled, snowy-haired Professor in his rumpled suit with the scrap-paper reminders pinned all over it (the most important one being the note that reads “My memory lasts only eighty minutes”). I just know that about 50 pages from the end of the story, I found myself digging in my heels, wanting to linger over every last word. The Housekeeper and the Professor is a gently written, beautiful musing on the nature of friendship and familial love. An ...more
Aug 16, 2010 Fiona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Fiona by: Laura
How can I possibly put this book into my own words? I can’t begin to imagine I could capture or convey to any of you, how this book made me feel. It took me two days to read and I wish I could have taken more time to read it – but I simply couldn’t put it down. The pages seemed to turn themselves and I didn’t really feel like I was reading at all.

This book moved me. It is a small ripple that travels a long way across calm waters. It is nothing ground shaking, nothing that makes you tumble and di
Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
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 ...more
Ace ⚓
If it wasn't for GR and a challenge to read a book about math, I would never have discovered this wonderful little book filled with characters with really big hearts. Lately men the likes of Ove, Harold and now the Professor have entered my world and I absolutely adore them. The love that the Housekeeper and Root show the Professor, the empathy and understanding of his condition and the delicacy with which they treat him is a testament to human kindness.
Feb 05, 2015 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

After our first full day visiting Japan in 2011, I saw a baseball game on TV (had to be a replay because it was December): the Yakult Swallows versus the Hanshin Tigers. I recognized Matt Murton of the Tigers who'd briefly played for the Chicago Cubs and the name of the 40-year-old Miyamoto. Two evenings later, in Nara, we got caught up in a small parade on the main street and as it ended, a young man straddling a bicycle caught up with us to ask if we were Americans and, next, if we knew Ame
This book is truly original, not your normal run of the mill. I highly recommend it. What is it about? It is about friendship and the beauty of numbers and baseball. And more..... Where should I start? I will start with the numbers. This is sort of the easiest to expalin. This book made me see and feel the beauty of math, of the laws that govern numbers. The world is so complicated. We understand nothing. Everything is always changing, but then you learn of a mathematical formula that is constan ...more
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Audiobook performed by Cassandra Campbell.
5***** and a

A housekeeper is sent by her agency to the home of a problematic client. A blue star is stamped on the client’s card each time a housekeeper has to be replaced, and the Professor’s card already has nine stars. But she prides herself on her professionalism. The Professor lives in a small cottage next to a larger mansion occupied by his brother’s widow. A few years before he suffered a brain injury in an automobile accident and as a result his
Nov 07, 2015 Iris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, own, reviewed
This was such a charming and heart-warming read: there was so much beauty in the writing, on the surface simple yet at the same time filled with hidden meanings and complexities, just like the intricate lace the housekeeper imagines, with awe, that the mathematician professor is able to glimpse. I liked how, in keeping with the professor having to be reintroduced to the housekeeper and her son throughout her special time with him, the reader too was kept in the dark about the names of the charac ...more
Nov 14, 2009 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some books stay with you. They make you pause, think and smile whenever they come into your mind. For me, this is definitely one of those books.

It is simple, gentle and character-driven, and it is also moving because it has so much insight into the human condition.

The Housekeeper is a single mother with a ten-year old son. She has a great deal of experience and she knows that she is good at her job, but when she is sent to work for The Professor, a virtuoso mathematician, she is worried.

Why? Wel
مروان البلوشي

جوهرة يابانية صافية ..درس عظيم في 180 صفحة عن الحب، والرحمة، والقدرة على الإحساس بالآخرين.
تستحق القراءة، والتأمل، والتعلم منها ..أخلاقياً وجمالياً.
JG (The Introverted Reader)
Aug 28, 2011 JG (The Introverted Reader) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to JG (The Introverted Reader) by: Fiona
The Professor is a brilliant mathematician who suffered some brain damage in an automobile accident years ago. He can remember his entire life up until the accident, but afterwards, he only has a memory of the past 80 minutes. Luckily, his sister-in-law steps in to help care for him. She hires housekeepers to come in to his little cottage and cook his meals. Needless to say, the Professor scares off many of these women. But then The Housekeeper comes along. She's something of a specialist in dif ...more
کتابی که نشر آموت منتشر کنه و کیهان بهمنی ترجمه کنه حتما باید خونده بشه!!
کتاب موضوع متفاوتی داره. فصل های اول خیلی کشش داره ولی از جایی به بعد روند داستان دیگه یکسان میشه.
نه از اون دسته کتاب هاییه که بشه گفت جالب نبودن نه از اون دسته ای که بگی فوق العاده بودن، به نظرم حداقل برای یه بار خوندن کتاب خوبیه. البته که بسته به سلیقه آدم ها نظرات متفاوته شاید برای کسی که به ریاضی علاقه مندتر از من باشه کتاب جالب تری باشه.
Reza ghavami
Nov 16, 2015 Reza ghavami rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
. امتیاز واقعی من ....اولش راستش فکر میکردم نویسنده میخواد از نظر فلسفی به رابطه خدمتکار و پروفسور نگاه کنه و بنویسه که بنظرم باحال تر میشد ولی چیزی که از آب در اومده هم کتاب خوبیه، اولش کنده، وسطاش به اوج میرسه وتا آخرش تقریبا تو اوج میمونه. داستان از طرف راوی که خدمتکار هستش روایت میشه و جاهایی از داستان هست که واقعا تحت تاثیر قرار میگیری چون قراره داستان خدمتکار و پسرش رو با یه پروفسور ریاضیاتی رو بخونی که این پروفسور قصه آلزایمر داره ، اونم به مدت دقیقه و اینکه چطور روزها و روزهای بعدش این ...more
When I say this book is twee, I don't say it as a general condemnation. My recent and rapid falling in love with the animated TV show 'Steven Universe' is but another step in a long and unbroken cycle spanning back to the days of the animated 'Beauty and the Beast' that can be best described as an appreciation of quality twee. Miyazaki, Pixar, 'How to Train Your Dragon', stuffed animals, Pusheen, the upcoming Beauty and the Beast live action; all are examples of high quality revitalizing consuma ...more
I remember learning in my interpersonal communications class in college that your opinion of someone is mainly comprised of two moments: 1) your first impression of them (yes, it's that important), and 2) your most recent impression of them. All the times in-between may linger, but those two moments are the moments most responsible for your feelings.

So what would it be like if each of those moments is created anew, every 80 minutes? How would you form an opinion of or attachment to someone? Woul
Buddy Read with my lovely ragazza Cam

"For the professor, there was no shame in admitting you didn't have the answer, it was a necessary step toward the truth. It was as important to teach us about the unknown or the unknowable as it was to teach us what had already been safely proven.

There are books that shred you after you’ve read them. Authors that feel like they’ve written their books just for you. The House Keeper and The Professor is one of those books, and Yoko Ogawa is one of those autho
Apr 19, 2016 Sookie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, novella, science
I remember struggling through Number Theory during Engineering. I managed to get through it by doing repetitive exercises and making the process of learning
a rote rather than, well, an experience. Almost a decade later I had to implement the very same part of mathematics that had eluded me in one of the softwares I was working on. A seventy year old German professor helped me to see the elegance and dignity that numbers possessed.

The book almost takes a spiritual undertone as Ogawa uses zero a
Jun 09, 2011 Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hate baseball, a game full of statistics and numbers. I hate math. But how could I possibly not love this writing and this book about love but not a love story?

"...The pages and pages of complex, impenetrable calculations might have contained the secrets of the universe, copied out of God's notebook.
In my imagination, I saw the creator of the universe sitting in some distant corner of the sky, weaving a pattern of delicate lace so fine that that even the faintest light would shine through it.
A short, sweet read on the frirendship between a housekeeper, her son and a mathematics professor whose memory lasts 80 minutes, after which he forgets everything. Sometimes, in reading literature that I know is supposed to touch me, I feel a little bit like an insensitive person, because I can't get myself to be as emotional as I deem the read to be. Even so, the writing is pretty damn good and, with the exception of some little flaws in logic, the story is believable.
Jan 02, 2016 Sterlingcindysu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of my top 10 for 2015.

If it weren't for my goodread friends I'd never know about this little gem! I bet 50 years from now it'll be a classic. It's not on 1001 books to read before you die, but it should be.

A housekeeper accepts an assignment to care for a mathematics professor who can't remember more than 80 minutes at a time as a result of a car accident. Would you be able to clean, cook, wash, etc around a man who 6 or 7 times a day re-introduces himself to you without going batty? As a
Jun 14, 2016 Didi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Japanese Lit lovers
The Professor is an expert in Mathematics. After a car accident his memory is blocked in 1975. He lives alone in a little house in the back of his sister-in-law’s garden. His main problem is that his short term memory only lasts 80 minutes. As a result, he wears a black suit everyday that he pins little notes on to remind him of things he has just experienced. This is how he can remember his housekeeper and her son Root. Continue reading....
Feb 08, 2009 Holly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: san-francisco-br
A great story, simple yet complex! The Professor has only eighty minutes of short-term memory, but can remember everything from before his car accident in 1975, including all kinds of complicated mathematical theorems and equations. His new housekeeper is a young woman with a ten-year-old son, who manages to see past his memory problems to the brilliant and sweet old man beneath. She soon comes to dote on him like a father. In turn, the Professor adores her son, whom he calls "Root" due to the f ...more

Euler's's been a long time since trigonometry...

A sweet and endearing tale of human relationships, the fleeting nature of memory, mathematics, and baseball. A kindly math professor's memory resets every 80 minutes, the result of an auto accident and traumatic brain injury. He clearly remembers everything pre-accident (pre-1975) but must be reintroduced to every person after 80 minutes of absence. He uses hand-drawn and written notes pinned to his suit jacket to remind him day-to-da
Diane S ☔
Aug 05, 2012 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful and touching story, loved the realness of the characters, and how they found a common ground in the love for a young boy. Baseball and mathematics play a large part but it also explores what friendship really means and the acceptance of people that are different. Wonderfully poignant story.
Joce (squibblesreads)
Quietly, almost silently gorgeous. Meandering this way and that, there is no real plot line or really intentions set out by Ogawa that I could see - just documenting the daily life of a simple woman, her 10 year old son, and the 60 year old math professor who she cares for. We don't know any of their names but we know them as people and as feelings. The reader creates the world for themselves as the writing is evocative but the plot is serene, but not pedestrian in any way, emphasizing the impor ...more
Кремена Михайлова
Отдавна не бях слушала камерна музика. С тази книга се случи. Камерна не само заради триото - всичко на всичко трима герои (плюс една втора цигулка от време на време). Камерна книжка и заради стила. Няма дълги изречения или безкрайни описания. Като със ситни стъпчици на японка върви повествованието. Спокойно като атмосферата в къщичката на Професора. Без онзи излишен шум, наречен суета, без излишно бъбрене или прекомерно бурни емоции, положителни или отрицателни. На моменти сдържано типично по я ...more
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Yōko Ogawa (小川 洋子) was born in Okayama, Okayama Prefecture, graduated from Waseda University, and lives in Ashiya. Since 1988, she has published more than twenty works of fiction and nonfiction. Her novel The Professor and his Beloved Equation has been made into a movie. In 2006 she co-authored „An Introduction to the World's Most Elegant Mathematics“ with Masahiko Fujiwara, a mathematician, as a ...more
More about Yōko Ogawa...

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“Solving a problem for which you know there’s an answer is like climbing a mountain with a guide, along a trail someone else has laid. In mathematics, the truth is somewhere out there in a place no one knows, beyond all the beaten paths. And it’s not always at the top of the mountain. It might be in a crack on the smoothest cliff or somewhere deep in the valley.” 64 likes
“He treated Root exactly as he treated prime numbers. For him, primes were the base on which all other natural numbers relied; and children were the foundation of everything worthwhile in the adult world” 35 likes
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