The beauty of figures plucked from an infinite numerical pool forms part of the theme of Yoko Ogawa’s novel, which is also a celebration of an improbable friendship.

The narrator is a housekeeper sent to work for a former mathematics professor suffering partial brain damage from the aftereffects of a car crash. The professor is in the care of his sister-in-law, with whom he once had an intimate but unspecified relationship that only she is able to recall.

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