The Solitude of Prime Numbers

In the middle of a conversation, my sister-in-law picks up a book from the table "I think you'll like it, you can read it, I've finished it already". A bit surprised I am staring in the big brown eyes of the girl on the cover: "The solitude of prime numbers" by Paolo Giordano.

It's only after she had loaned me the book that I started noticing it in the windows of book stores. Apparently it is giving Stieg Larsson some competition who has almost a monopoly in the top 10 book sales last year here in Belgium. Apparently Giordano is the youngest author ever winning the most prestigious Italian literary price , the Premio Strega with this debut.

Right from the start the 2 main young protagonists and the reader are smacked in the face with two huge traumatic experiences that will continue to impact the future lives of these young people on a day-to-day basis. Immediately the tone is set and the suffocating feeling had settled in on me when reading.

Both characters struggle with communication and emotions and they seem to be locked up in their own bubble of introspection (autism??), genius, self-destruction, solitude, obsessions and the inability to truly connect to anybody else, despite their deep friendship with each other. As a reader you are intrigued and shocked by their evolution and life choices and you're dragged along. The entire time there was an ominous feeling as if both of them were doomed and the foreshadow of more tragedy was on the next page. Thrilling and choking but also hopeful in a subtle way at the same time.

At the end of the book I was left wondering whether I had enjoyed the book or not. I'm really not sure. It surely kept me reading once started and the images & writing style used was really enjoyable. Yet I could absolutely not relate to the arid social world of Alice and Mattia and I wish I could have smacked them on the head a couple of times. But that probably wouldn't have made a difference to them at all. I guess that's the problem really.

Comments

anno said…
Well, it at least sounds interesting, and it's available in English. I'll be looking for it...
Brian Miller said…
hmmm...perhaps i will check it out...
Sally HP said…
I'll have to pick up the English copy...I always wonder how much is lost in translation, though...
Goofball said…
@sally: yes I assume there's always something lost. But being a Belgian I usually prefer to read in my mother language Dutch. So I almost always must read translations.