The Solitude of Prime Numbers
By Paolo Giordano
Pamela Dorman Books, Hardcover, 9780670021482, 288pp.
Publication Date: March 18, 2010
List Price: $25.95*
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A prime number can only be divided by itself or by one it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia, both "primes," are misfits who seem destined to be alone. Haunted by childhood tragedies that mark their lives, they cannot reach out to anyone else. When Alice and Mattia meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit.
But the mathematically gifted Mattia accepts a research position that takes him thousands of miles away, and the two are forced to separate. Then a chance occurrence reunites them and forces a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface.
Like Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," this is a stunning meditation on loneliness, love, and the weight of childhood experience that is set to become a universal classic.
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"A mesmerizing portrait of a young man and woman whose injured natures draw them together over the years and inevitably pull them apart. Mr. Giordano remarkably and movingly portrays the hesitant groping toward warmth that works beneath the pair's emotional disabilities. The author works with piercing subtlety. An exquisite rendering of what one might call feelings at the subatomic level."
-Richard Eder for The New York Times
"The melancholy that hangs over The Solitude of Prime Numbers is seductive and unnerving. A-."
"Giordano's passionate evocation of being young and in despair will resonate strongly with readers."
"The elegant and fiercely intelligent debut novel by 27-year-old physicist Paolo Giordano, The Solitude of Prime Numbers revolves around Mattia and Alice, friends since high school-'twin primes, alone and lost, close but not close enough to really touch each other,' wherein resides the seductive enchantment of this singular love story."
"This compelling debut shows a remarkable sensitivity and maturity in the depiction of its damaged soulmates. A fragile, unconventional love story by a talent to watch."
"A deeply touching debut. Beautiful and affecting...it reads easily, due in party to the almost seamless translation. An intimate psychological portrait of two 'prime numbers'-together alone and alone together."
"Surprising, intimate and deeply moving, The Solitude of Prime Numbers takes the readers on a hypnotic journey through an unexpected love affair. Paolo Giordano writes with grace and elegance of gentle but damaged characters, using inventive language to create a story unlike anything in recent fiction. This is everything a debut novel should be and leaves one longing for the books that will follow."
-John Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
"Paul Giordano is an expert on loss and sorrow. He understands and reveals the hidden hollows of the heart. His story is a quiet one, but his strong writing and unforgettable characters make his book a page turner. The Solitude of Prime Numbers is sad, dark and perfect."
-Mary Pipher, author of Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World
"What a shock to open a novel written by a young physicist in Italy and find myself there, on every page. No wonder Giordano's readers can be counted in the millions; this astute, aching contemplation of solitude has a power to make us all feel a little less alone. A love story told with astonishing perceptiveness and remarkable subtlety, The Solitude of Prime Numbers is an extraordinary affirmation of the reasons we read."
-Stefan Merrill Block, author of The Story of Forgetting
Some of the best summers are those filled with journeys, reunions and good food â�� three themes that factor prominently in the books recommended by our independent booksellers. More at NPR.org
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