Housekeeper and the ProfessorPosted: 2014/01/06
Ogawa, Yoko. The Housekeeper and the Professor. Translated by Stephen Snyder. New York: Picador, 2009.
Told from the point of view of the unnamed housekeeper, The Housekeeper and the Professor is a beautiful yet complex tale about an unlikely relationship. She is a single mother to a ten year old boy, cleaning the house of a once-brilliant professor. He is a mathematician who suffered a traumatic head injury that has left him with a memory that lasts only 80 minutes at a time. It’s an unusual predicament. The housekeeper must reintroduce herself to the professor every day she comes to cook and clean for the man. If she is at his tiny bungalow more than 80 minutes she must reintroduce herself in the same day. To try to compensate for his lack of memory, the professor has pinned notes about his life to help him cope. Included in his notes are details about the housekeeper and her son who the professor calls, “Root.” Despite the obvious obstacles the professor and the housekeeper develop a beautiful friendship. At the “root” of their relationship is ten year old Root, baseball, and the undying love for a left-handed pitcher.
Line that bothered me to no end, “He traced the symbol in the thick layer of dust on his desk” (p 1). This bothered me because the title of the book is The Housekeeper and the Professor. The housekeeper is speaking about the professor’s desk. Hello? Shouldn’t the desk be rid of dust if she is the housekeeper or does the definition of housekeeping differ in Japan?
As an aside, it was interesting to read two different books that have a left-handed pitcher in the plot.
Reason read: Emperor Akihot was born in the month of December.
Author fact: Ogawa also wrote The Diving Pool which is not on my list to read but seems like the better book because the back of The Housekeeper and the Professor has praise for The Diving Pool.
Book trivia: The Housekeeper and the Professor is short, only 180 pages long.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Japanese Journeys” (p 117).