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The Tenth Muse

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  530 ratings  ·  138 reviews
The first thing I remember being said of me with any consistency was that I was intelligent—and I recognized even then that it was a comment leveled at me with as much disapproval as admiration. Still, I never tried to hide or suppress my mind as some girls do, and thank God, because that would have been the beginning of the end.

From childhood, Katherine knows she is diffe
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 18th 2019 by Ecco
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4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  530 ratings  ·  138 reviews

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Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung is as ambitious and intriguing as the conplex math problems Katherine, the protagonist of this remarkable novel aims to solve. This is a novel, the scope of which is staggering--as Katherine moves through her life trying to discover who she is while negotiating the world of mathematics as a woman who refuses to be silenced or sidelined for anyone, no matter what it costs her. In her second novel, Chung has crafted a story that is moving, elegant and richly writt ...more
Chaima ✨ شيماء
Full review now posted HERE on my blog

A historical fiction about a young female math prodigy trying to solve the Riemann hypothesis AND learn more about her parentage? SIGN YOURSELF UP
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Thanks so much for your interest in THE TENTH MUSE! I hope you like it, and am so grateful to all of my readers.
Jessica Woodbury
What a beautiful and mesmerizing book. I didn't so much read it as get lost in it, finishing it in little more than a day. Katherine is a Mathemetician, professional, respected, and accomplished. In the novel she looks back on her life, particularly the early stages of her career which were inextricably bound up with the story of where she came from.

In post-WWII America, numbers come naturally to Katherine from an early age, but the world of mathematics is never a natural fit. She is always the
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bernhard Riemann, German mathematician, in 1859 proposed the Riemann hypothesis, which remains unsolved to this day. “In fact, the Clay Institute is offering $1 million to the person who solves it first.”

This story is about a young ambitious woman who tries to solve the Riemann hypothesis. Set during a time when only men studied science and only men were given positions as professors. Katherine, the protagonist, is being told repeatedly that she could achieve so much if only she were a man.

May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up for a break from the typical stuff I was required to read. I needed something solid and good and refreshing. This was just what I needed.

I loved and connected with Katherine. She was going on this emotional journey to find herself and her past. It was a unique journey through math and history which was right up my alley. I thought the writing was so delicious and good. I loved exploring Germany in the 1950s in the aftermath of WWII. It was unique and great.

Also, the perspe
Post WWII Michigan. Catherine is an ambitious Asian American math genius who quickly learns that the odds are stacked against her, being a woman in a man's field, which makes her more determined than ever to leave her mark in the world by solving one of the most impossible math hypotheses. While she attempts to unearth the mathematical challenges, she discovers puzzles that surround her own identity. For those who enjoyed Pachinko by Min Jin Lee or The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict.
Shannon A
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read in a day.
Woven here is a tale of family, love, mystery and math.
Katherine, discovered to be a math wiz in primary school, dreams to one day solve a challenging math equation/prove a proof. Only later on does she discover that the most important puzzle she will ever unravel is that of her true family she had no knowledge of.
This book had the potential to be a 5-star-book, and it was until about halfway in. Then things started to go south.

I wanted to read the book because of the maths storyline and Katherine, the main character, wanting to learn more about her heritage, which the book did justice until I hit the 50%-mark, and while there was a romance storyline in the first half of the book (Katherine and one of her superiors, Peter), it did not detract too much from Katherine's love for mathematics.

Yet as the boo
Stacey (bookishpursuit)
I was hoping to like this much more. I preordered it so I assumed I would like it more, but I found it average. The one thing the protagainist Katherine is certain of is that she has an extraordinary gift for math. Her life goal is to "conquer the Riemann hypothesis, the greatest unsolved mathematical problem of her time." However, she met with severe resistance as a female in the 1950's and 60's. Her battle to have her work recognized and to overcome the prejudice against her gender in a male d ...more
Brooke Smith
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much that I didn’t want to finish it!

It’s a perfect book for the cultural conversations we are having right now. The backbone of the book is a deep exploration of the struggles women have faced, both personally and professionally, when they have exceptional minds and important contributions to give to the world of knowledge. These themes are revealed in a fresh way that is not at all trite or heavy handed. It will cause you to reflect on the answers that have been lost to t
A lyrical, mesmerizing, compulsively readable novel — I read it it one sitting. Written like a memoir, it follows Katherine, a bi-racial child prodigy, as she makes her way in the world of mathematics in the 1950s and 60s, while trying to unravel the mystery of her family and figuring out who she is and where she belongs, in moving and melancholic meditations on race, gender, and identity. In this staggering work that takes us from Michigan to Germany to China, Chung brilliantly explores the cho ...more
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was just beautifully brilliant. Told as a memoir from Katherine‘s later years, it has all the insights of an older person looking back on their life. As Katherine recounts her years as a constant outsider growing up in a white town and then as a woman in a male-dominated field of study, you see and feel her brilliance and frustration as well as her otherness. As Katherine unravels complex math hypotheses, she also learns about her complicated past and family secrets. This leads to self disc ...more
Laura Hill
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung Ecco June 18th Historical Fiction
Writing: 4/5 Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4/5 Special Credit for beautiful math concepts: 5/5

A thoughtful and unusual memoir-style novel describing the personal journey of a female mathematician as she simultaneously navigates a male dominated field and slowly uncovers the truth of her family history. Katherine is a young, bi-racial Asian American growing up in New Umbria, Michigan in the early 1950s where her prodigious mathematical ta
Candace Hernandez
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I never imagined I would be interested in a story about mathematical theorems, but my goodness did I love this book! There’s a little bit of everything packed into this novel - historical fiction, mystery, family drama, and love.

As the only biracial (Chinese and white) student in her school growing up, Katherine always felt different. When she later became the only female student in a male-dominated field, Katherine was faced with even more obstacles. Her story is one that is filled with female
Sachi Argabright
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
THE TENTH MUSE is a complex and compelling novel about a mathematician named Katherine. Despite being underestimated by her many male colleagues, she sets out to solve one of the world’s most famous unsolved math problems. Set in various periods of Katherine’s life, this story explores themes such as feminism, family, and identity.

I loved this novel much more than I thought I would, and ended up flying through it! Katherine is a biracial woman (Chinese and white) who finds comfort in the pattern
Erica Wright
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed every sentence of this smart, moving story. Chung makes math seem both beautiful and thrilling.
Nan Williams
May 18, 2019 rated it liked it
This story had a lot going for it. I really enjoyed reading the history of the development of higher math. Less to my liking were the ins and outs of academia, but I could certainly understand some of the prejudice there. Chung definitely exhibited a chip on her own shoulder and couldn’t see to free herself from her own imprisonment of victimhood.

Just an aside … as a woman I’ve never “felt” victimized nor have I let myself feel prejudiced against. When I was in an MBA program (in 1964) which had
Hermione Ireland
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a strong and beautiful book. If only I had some mathematical ability myself. A great combination of a search to find out where you’re from, a woman’s battle with the world, the importance of family and who that is, and a bigger historical story of genius and history.
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book whether you are a mathematical prodigy or math-challenged. Just as you can enjoy a concert without being able to read music, the reader can take pleasure in the beauty and harmony of numbers with which the narrator tells her life story, from the vantage point of a revered math scholar.
Of course, it this story was only about math, it would have a much smaller audience. As in all good books this story is really about the search for personal meaning and being true to your idea
Vivian Stevenson
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Ecco/Netgalley for allowing me to read this for an honest review!

This was such a pleasant slow burn of a book! Even though it was a slow burn it only took me four days to finish. I didn't have an audio book either, so that's surprising.

Characters | Katherine was a wonderful main character. She definitely had her flaws, but she was strong the majority of the time. I enjoy reading about a main character that isn't invincible. She trusted too many people in this book, and was pretty m
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This captivating novel was an unexpected pleasure. Yes, I did request to review it, but once I was approved, I wasn't sure I wanted to read something that revolved about my bete noire, math.

But there's math, and math. The stuff we might have struggled with in high school or college is the pale fourth cousin of the math on Katherine's level. This math is beautiful, artistic, exciting, and competitive as anything you can imagine.

In "The Tenth Muse," Katherine is both seeking to solve some historic
Joan Happel
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Written almost as a memoir, Katherine’s story unfolds in a first person narrative. Katherine is a mathematician, trying to prove herself in the male dominated world of 1960’s academia. At the same time, she is seeking her identity as a bi-racial woman. Katherine grew up in a small town in Michigan with her Chinese mother and Caucasian American father. Life is hard enough for her, but her mother leaves the family just before Katherine enters the tenth grade. As an undergrad she is ridiculed, igno ...more
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"I told him about wormholes and physics, and parts of the universe that seem far apart but are actually touching, and particles that aren't touching, but are somehow so connected that if you do something to one on one side of the universe, the other will respond from all the way across. He told me about reincarnation, how past lives affect this one, how we've met everyone at least once before: how anyone could have been our mother...He was speaking in the language of his religion, but it sounded ...more
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an extremely quotable novel, but here’s one from the narrator that especially resonates with me: “Every story I knew about a woman, it occurred to me, involved a story of theft” (257).

This character and her story are arresting. She’s a mathematician (which terrified me initially), and she spends the novel and her life searching for answers (to keep it vague and spoiler-free). Along the way, at EVERY step, she embodies her claim about women and theft. She is a constant victim of theft in
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. The premise was fascinating and I liked the main character and much of the storyline(s). But I found it heartbreaking in a way I'm not sure I can describe. So I'm loath to recommend it, even though it's got some important things to say. I guess I'd say read it but be forewarned; you are not prepared for what does - and does not - happen, and you may (like I did) struggle with what is forgiven.

Also, while the cover art is lovely and eye-catching, I do not understand why
Mesmerizing story filled with history, numbers, mythology and a heroine determined to solve the mysteries of her own existence while she puzzles out larger ones. Author Catherine Chung has written a memorable book that is filled with characters inhabiting a world fully alive and real. The book is a fast read but hugely enjoyable from start to finish. I received my copy from the publisher through edelweiss.
Narrative Muse
– The Tenth Muse will leave you musing –

I found The Tenth Muse on a buzz book list featuring the best upcoming books for 2019. When I looked it up on Goodreads for more information, I saw that a friend of mine had already ranked it with 5 stars. Now this friend has impeccable taste and is hella stingy with her stars. So I picked up the book as quickly as I could and I was not disappointed.

The Tenth Muse is the story of Katherine and her dream to conquer the one of the greatest unsolved, unsolva
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved the nostalgic and melancholy tone of this book. Just thinking about it makes me feel young and hopeful and lonely and snubbed - Katherine as a character was so real and full in so many ways. I just wanted something more to round out the story. Maybe in the end I wanted to see her wins instead of her losses - which would maybe take away from the book's theme that to follow what you love, you must give up yourself. But, oh, I wanted to hear more about her great life than her asides. This w ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh, I just loved this one. It broke my heart in such a great way. And it gives just a tiny glimpse of how beautiful math can appear to a mathematician. My brain doesn’t work that way at all, so I really liked seeing a little bit of that perspective.
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Play Book Tag: The Tenth Muse- Chung- 5 stars 5 17 Jun 27, 2019 12:04PM  
Mt. Lebanon Publi...: The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung 1 5 Jun 11, 2019 05:04PM  
Catherine Chung is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and a Director's Visitorship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She was a Granta New Voice, and won an Honorable Mention for the PEN/Hemingway Award with her first novel, Forgotten Country, which was a Booklist, Bookpage, and San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2012. She has a degree in mathematics fro ...more
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