The Housekeeper and the Professor


In The Housekeeper and the Professor, by Yoko Ogawa, a gifted mathematics professor suffered brain damage in an accident that left him with only 80 minutes of working short-term memory. He had been cared for over the years since the accident by housekeepers who ran his household and watched over him. They came and were replaced frequently.

The new housekeeper, however, is different from the others who had looked after the professor before her. A very caring and intuitive person, she (and her young son) become close to him, and their kindness and caring ways bring out the best in all of them. They become a kind of family, sharing a love of mathematics and of baseball, and taking care of each other. But each day, when the housekeeper returns, the professor doesn’t remember the events and interactions of the day before.

It’s a fascinating kind of story. It didn’t have big action or lots of drama, but it stays with you long after you finish the book. I loved the relationships, the math that was explained by this gifted teacher, and the baseball. I read it for Dolce Bellezza‘s Japanese Literature Challenge 8, and it was a lovely choice. I look forward to reading more of Yoko Ogawa’s work.


6 thoughts on “The Housekeeper and the Professor

  1. Bellezza

    You’re so right, how this lovely book stays with you long after you’ve finished it. It remains my favorite of Ogawa’s work; both Revenge and Hotel Iris were disturbing to me. Of course, others love that horrific angle that they take on, but I was expecting more along the lines of the mood in this one. And, the way that she “defined” family here was so touching to me.

    p.s. Your blog is so beautiful. I get the same peaceful feeling when I land here as when I read the book you reviewed. xo


  2. Robin Post author

    Thank you, Meredith, for your kind words about my blog and also for hosting this challenge again. It has introduced me to some wonderful literature and very enjoyable reading! I probably won’t read those two Ogawa books… I just shy away from the disturbing books these days. I’d rather focus on the gentle and the beautiful.

    Kristen, it’s one I would reread, also.



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