The Solitude of Prime Numbers – Paolo Giordano

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Amazon Synopsis
A prime number is a lonely thing. It can only be divided by itself or by one, and it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia are both “primes”-misfits haunted by early tragedies. When the two meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit. Years later, a chance encounter reunites them and forces a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface. But can two prime numbers ever find a way to be together? A brilliantly conceived and elegantly written debut novel, The Solitude of Prime Numbers is a stunning meditation on loneliness, love, and what it means to be human.
I’m not sure I enjoyed this book. However, it was sufficiently engaging for me to keep on reading until the end. The story left me with mixed emotions . Sadness, at the two wasted lives. Two people – soul mates, I suppose – who clearly belonged together but due to their flawed nature were never able to voice or act upon their deep feelings for each other. Both their flawed natures were due to their individual childhood traumas, which quite literally, scarred them for life.
I didn’t warm to Alice. She revealed a vindictive cruel side to her nature. And Mattia ? Somehow I found myself excusing his preoccupation with numbers.

 

As I read the story I grew increasingly irritated that Mattia and Alice seemed incapable of ever saying anything meaningful to each other, which might permit them to break through their protective cocoons ,to acknowledge their feelings , and join as a couple.

 

The book won Italy’s premier literary award and it certainly is an outstandingly original story. The translation provides an easy to read flow of narrative, and many of the chapters are short. Yet again I find myself in a dilemma as to how to give a Goodreads grading on their star system. The book is contemporary, insightful, original and well-written but again, I can’t say I enjoyed it.

 

If you enjoy star-crossed lover stories, or psychological themes, you will probably enjoy the novel.

4 thoughts on “The Solitude of Prime Numbers – Paolo Giordano

    1. The book was in our Library Book club – that’s how I came to read it. I’m equally glad I didn’t spend money buying it. Not a book I would ever re-read. Once was enough !

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  1. I hardly ever read Italian fiction because I am disappointed over and over again, and I end up comparing it to the classics I studied in school (I read it in the original Italian) but I did love this book. I found it original and not contrived (and I also loved the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan set of novels).

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    1. I’ve read little Italian fiction, and decided not to tackle the Neapolitan series. I found your comment interesting. In this part of the world, not much is available to us. I’ve read one Italo Calvino, and Guiseppe Lampardi ‘The Leopard’ and that’s about it.

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