The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Ogawa is my first read for Women in Translation Month 2020. It is the story of a single parent housekeeper and her relationship with a former mathematics professor that can not take care of himself after a serious accident a few years prior. The housekeeper has a ten-year-old son named Root that develops a bond with the professor over mathematics and baseball.
Ogawa tells a beautiful, simple story about the relationships amongst the three principal characters and reveals how everyone needs connection to bring out the best we offer as human beings. The professor cannot hold memories beyond eighty minutes long, and how the housekeeper navigates to this peculiar personality issue is handled well.
Also, I liked how Ogawa dealt with the professor’s genius with numbers. She did a solid job of revealing his character beyond his gift and how his relationship with the housekeeper’s son grew over the course of the novel. The author did not present the professor as some kind of freak or object to be gawked at from the wider society.
If you are looking for a gentle, simple story that reveals depth of character, then I recommend The Housekeeper and The Professor. A good start to Women In Translation Month 2020!