A meditation on isolation, loneliness, and alienation, this novel is astonishing in its depth. Two high-school friends — Alice, an anorexic, and Mattia, a cutter — conceal a sea of emotion beneath their stoic facades. As adults, after years of separation, a chance encounter changes both of them to the core. Paolo Giordano, who published The Solitude of Prime Numbers when he was just 27 years old, is talented far, far beyond his years. This book is excellent. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A stunning debut novel about the intertwined destinies of two friends brought together by childhood tragedy.
A three-million-copy Italian bestseller and winner of that country's prestigious Premio Strega award.
A prime number is inherently a solitary thing: it can only be divided by itself, or by one: it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia, too, move on their own axis, alone with their personal tragedies. As a child, Alice's overbearing father drove her first to a terrible skiing accident, and then to anorexia. When she meets Mattia she recognizes a kindred, tortured spirit, and Mattia reveals to Alice his terrible secret: that as a boy he abandoned his mentally-disabled twin sister in a park to go to a party, and when he returned, she was nowhere to be found.
These two irreversible episodes mark Alice and Mattia's lives for ever, and as they grow into adulthood their destinies seem intertwined: they are divisible only by themselves and each other. But the shadow of the lost twin haunts their relationship, until a chance sighting by Alice of a woman who could be Mattia's sister forces a lifetime of secret emotion to the surface.
A meditation on loneliness and love, The Solitude of Prime Numbers asks, can we ever truly be whole when we're in love with another? And when Mattia is asked to choose between human love and his professional love — of mathematics — which will make him more complete?
"Italian author and mathematician Giordano follows two scarred people whose lives intersect but can't seem to join in his cerebral yet touching debut. Alice and Mattia, both survivors of childhood traumas, are the odd ones out amid the adolescent masses in their high school. Mattia has never recovered from the loss of his sister, while Alice still suffers the effects of a skiing accident that damaged her physically and stunted her ability to trust. Now teenagers, Mattia, also addicted to self-injury, has withdrawn into a world of numbers and math, and Alice gains control through starving herself and photography. When they meet, they recognize something primal in each other, but timing and awkwardness keep their friendship on tenuous ground until, years later, their lives come together one last time. Giordano uses Mattia and Alice's trajectory to ask whether there are some people the prime numbers among us who are destined to be alone, or whether two primes can come together. The novel's bleak subject matter is rendered almost beautiful by Giordano's spare, intense focus on his two characters." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Mesmerizing...an exquisite rendering of what one might call feels at the subatomic level." The New York Times
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.
About the Author
Paolo Giordano has just completed his Ph.D. in particle physics, and is now devoting himself to writing full time.