The Solitude of Prime NumbersBook - 2010
A three-million-copy Italian bestseller and winner of that country's prestigious Premio Strega award.
A prime number is inherently a solitary thing: it can only be divided by itself, or by one: it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia, too, move on their own axis, alone with their personal tragedies. As a child, Alice's overbearing father drove her first to a terrible skiing accident, and then to anorexia. When she meets Mattia she recognizes a kindred, tortured spirit, and Mattia reveals to Alice his terrible secret: that as a boy he abandoned his mentally-disabled twin sister in a park to go to a party, and when he returned, she was nowhere to be found.
These two irreversible episodes mark Alice and Mattia's lives for ever, and as they grow into adulthood their destinies seem intertwined: they are divisible only by themselves and each other. But the shadow of the lost twin haunts their relationship, until a chance sighting by Alice of a woman who could be Mattia's sister forces a lifetime of secret emotion to the surface.
A meditation on loneliness and love, The Solitude of Prime Numbers asks, can we ever truly be whole when we're in love with another? And when Mattia is asked to choose between human love and his professional love -- of mathematics -- which will make him more complete?
From the critics
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A prime number is divisible by one or itself, it never fits with another. Alice and Mattia are primes, two misfits destined to be alone. Both Alice and Mattia have suffered tragic accidents in their childhoods but meet at a high school party and recognize a kindred spirit. They develop a strong friendship but when the mathematically talented Mattia accepts a position at a university thousands of miles away they are forced apart. A chance encounter causes a reunion between them years later. Can two prime numbers find a way to be together?
The Solitude of Prime Numbers is author, Paolo Giordano’s debut novel. It has been very well received in his home country of Italy and has been translated into thirty languages. It is a story of loneliness, love and the weight of childhood experience. I highly recommend this novel for both adults and young adults. Reviewed by KH.
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Mattia deliberately made all his movements as silently as he could. He knew that the chaos of the world would only increase, that the background noise would grow until it covered every coherent signal, but he was convinced that by carefully measuring his every gesture he would be less guilty of that slow ruin.
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