by Yoko Ogawa // A Picador Paperback Original
A beautiful story of a brilliant math professor, with a peculiar problem--since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory. She is an astute young housekeeper with a ten-year-old son who is hired to care for him. And between them a strange, beautiful relationship blossoms. Though the professor can hold new memories for only eighty minutes, his mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past; and through him, the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the housekeeper and her son. The Housekeeper and the Professor is an enchanting story about what it means to live in the present, and about the curious equations that can create a family where one before did not exist.
The professors sees and speaks of the world around him in terms of math. I thought of a cherry blossom tree scattering its many petals in the wind. How the professor would see that pattern as a complex math equation and how the housekeeper could connect and begin to see the world in his terms. Along the edges where the pink background meets the photo, I printed the ∏ / Pi equation taken out to 200 decimal places to echo the meeting of the analytical and the emotional.
Nature, meet Math. Math, this is Nature.
Click to hear the ∏ / Pi song.
Going down the side along the turnover, the point where the cover folds into the flaps, I typeset Pi to 200+ decimal places in fine print:
I forgot that this book was slated to come out a couple of years ago but under the title The Gift of Numbers. It was delayed because we were not happy with the English translation of the Japanese manuscript. I guess I shouldn't have used Babelfish. Here's the comp that only made it to Advance Uncorrected Proofs:
Photograph by Laura Hanifin
This is the second book I've designed for Yoko Ogawa. Her previous title was The Diving Pool. I remember picking this particular cherry blossom image with the dominant blue sky because I thought it would be nice to tie in with the overall blue of the pool. I think I'll have to find a way to use blue on her next novel.