The Housekeeper and the Professor – Review

Set in Japan in the early 1990’s, this is a beautifully written story about a bond between a humble housekeeper and her boss, an aging professor with a memory lapse. After a tragic car accident in 1975, his memory lasts only 80 minutes at a time. As a way to cope, he writes notes of relevant facts and clips them to his clothes, notes like “my memory only lasts for 80 minutes.” With her son, nicknamed Root, the three formed a strong filial bond that lasted well into Root’s adulthood.

The Housekeeper and the Professor: A Novel I liked how the story was written, very quiet and peaceful. There were traces of competition between mother and son for the professor’s limited attention. There is a lot of discussion of math in this book. After the accident, the professor finds solace in working endlessly on math puzzles published in magazines. Often winning first prize, the reward is not in the checks sent in the mail, but only in finding the solution.

Although it was a very sweet book, there were a few paths I wish the author had investigated more, like whether or not there was really a relationship with his sister-in-law, why she always hid in the back of the house and was never a presence in his life.

This is a good rainy day book, at only 180 pages, it shouldn’t take long to finish.


The Housekeeper and the Professor
by Yoko Ogawa
Picador, 2009
ISBN 312427808
180 pages


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One response to “The Housekeeper and the Professor – Review

  1. Pingback: 2009 Recap « The Novel World

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