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The Tenth Muse

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  49 ratings  ·  17 reviews

An exhilarating novel about a trailblazing mathematician who unearths her own extraordinary family story and its roots in World War II

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 m
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Expected publication: June 18th 2019 by Ecco
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4.47  · 
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 ·  49 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.

Shannon A
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Laura Hill
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
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
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
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
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫. Full review on instagram @yellowbrickreads1. 🌈 ...more
Hermione Ireland
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.
Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-mt-bookpile
Definitely for math lovers, as well as those who like reading about WWII history, Chinese-American lives in the US, and women in STEM fields. The mix is fine, as is the writing. It just felt that somehow, something was missing or needed a little more "oomph" to make this a really wonderful read. Katherine's life, her search for her family and the depth of her interest in math are all told in the literary equivalent of a sepia tone. Plus, the professor/student relationship, while very much of the ...more
Jan Thullen
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read an ARC

It is easy to get immersed in this story of a woman who learns that the person she knew as her mother was not. The first half of the novel proceeds as a fairly quiet story of a determined woman skilled at math who is one of the few women in her classes (1960s-1970s) hoping to overcome doubters and detractors. Later, she begins to piece together a more complicated story of her background.
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
Nan Williams
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
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Catherine Chung has created a literary maze for the reader to unfold layer by layer. Well worth peeling off the layers to reveal a most rewarding read.
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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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