Number's Up for Professor's Short Term Memory

Article excerpt

The Housekeeper And The Professor by Yoko Ogawa (Harvill Secker, priced pounds 11.99) Japanese author Ogawa has written more than 20 works, but The Housekeeper And The Professor is only her second book to be translated into English.

It is so beautifully crafted, you're left wondering why there aren't more of her stories available here.

The titular lonely maths professor had an accident that left him with an 80-minute short-term memory, so each morning he meets his housekeeper again as if for the first time.

Living in a humble cottage, he spends hours locked in his own thoughts about numbers, while she learns to leave him be and quietly cleans around him.

When the professor discovers the housekeeper has a young son, he insists the boy join them each day. While the professor teaches the housekeeper and her son about his world of numbers, he slowly opens up and the three find a family in each other.

You don't need to love or even understand maths to enjoy Ogawa's work. She carefully weaves equations into the housekeeper's narrative among delicate depictions of the old man and a curious young boy.

50 Ways To Find A Lover by Lucy- Anne Holmes (Pan, pounds 6.99).

Sarah Sergeant is bubbly, attractive and loved by her friends; she is also single and spends an indecent amount of time in her pyjamas crying.

Fast approaching 30, her loving friends and family decide to kick-start her love life and encourage her to embark on a hilarious dating adventure to explore 50 different ways to find a man. …