Synopses & Reviews
In the tradition of Fermat's Last Theorem
and Einstein's Dreams
, a novel about mathematical obsession.
Petros Papachristos devotes the early part of his life trying to prove one of the greatest mathematical challenges of all time: Goldbach's Conjecture, the deceptively simple claim that every even number greater than two is the sum of two primes. Against a tableau of famous historical figures-among them G.H. Hardy, the self-taught Indian genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, and a young Kurt Godel-Petros works furiously to prove the notoriously difficult conjecture. Decades later, his ambitious young nephew drives the defeated mathematician back into the hunt to prove Goldbach's Conjecture. . . but at the cost of the old man's sanity, and perhaps even his life.
"A mathematical conjecture unsolved for two centuries; a mathematical genius uncle driven mad trying to solve it; an ambiguous relation with a mathematically-minded nephew; and acute human observation all come together in Uncle Petros
to make a very funny, tender, charming and, to my mind, irresistible novel." --Oliver Sacks, M.D.
"The most dramatic book I've read all year, with ambition, betrayal and greedy self-sacrifice to rival anything you'd find in an opera." --Newsday
"A fascinating, captivating, intellectual joy ride..." --Miami Herald
“A mathematical conjecture unsolved for two centuries; a mathematical genius uncle driven mad trying to solve it; an ambiguous relation with a mathematically-minded nephew; and acute human observation all come together in Uncle Petros to make a very funny, tender, charming and, to my mind, irresistible novel.”—Oliver Sacks, M.D.
“Paints a fascinating picture of how a mathematician could fall into a mental trap by devoting his efforts to a too difficult problem.”—John Nash, Nobel Laureate, 1994, subject of A Beautiful Mind
“It is brilliantly written—a mathematical detective story of great charm—and it certainly succeeds in capturing much of the spirit of mathematical research.”—Sir Michael Atiyah, winner of the Fields Medal and world-renowned mathematician
“A compelling portrait of a talented young mathematician.”—Professor Ken Ribet, University of California, Berkeley
“Uncle Petros offers many glimpses of the great superreal world of mathematical ideas, a world of eternal truths and of unspeakable beauty.”—Professor Demetrios Christodoulou, Princeton University
“An intellectual thriller that manages to convey the high drama and excitement involved in the pursuit of an answer to a mysterious … mathematical theorem … Delightful, fun, well-conceived and nicely executed.”—Kirkus Reviews
“I very much enjoyed Uncle Petros and Goldbachs Conjecture, and read it through compulsively to the end.”—Michael Frayn, author of Headlong
“Intriguing debut … Doxiadis keeps the story engaging by focusing on the development of two compelling characters … the novel is captivating.”—Publishers Weekly
“Delightful and original … Although framed by math, the Uncle Petros story easily extends interest beyond the scientific minded.”—Booklist
“A charming novel.”—Los Angeles Times
“If you think of math as a set of boring rules, Apostolos Doxiadis suspenseful, page-turning first novel Uncle Petros & Goldbachs Conjecture is certain to shatter your preconceptions … It is a novel about life choices. At every point, it revolves around the question: which is better, to pursue a possibly unattainable ideal, or to set attainable goals? It takes courage to showcase this question … Without offering any easy answer, Doxiadis dives us another vivid dramatization of what the question entails. And it is greatly to his credit that he manages to lighten the drama with considerable wit and humor.”—Boston Herald
“Petros Papachristos is…the invention of Apostolos Doxiadis. But the story of his life is enriched with so many authentic details from history in general and from science in particular that one feels tempted to look him up in a biographic dictionary. Doxiadis manages to keep the readers attention until the tragic end.”—Scientific American
“A fascinating, captivating, intellectual joy ride … The writing is breezy and offhand, which allows even the most dense material to settle gently, and Doxiadis has made his story even more accessible by opting to have Uncle Petros select a discipline that deals only in integers … But seeing what number theorists do with them … that alone makes this very engaging novel worthwhile.”—Miami Herald
“A fun read …buy, read, and enjoy.”—Mathematical Association of America (on-line)
“Doxiadis ‘novel of mathematical obsession, as the subtitle calls it, is the most dramatic book Ive read all year, with ambition, betrayal and greedy self-sacrifice to rival anything youd find in an opera.”—Newsday
“A riveting debut thats part detective story, part biography, part coming-of-age story and part eulogy … a distinctly timeless tale of a distinctly timeless mathematical puzzle.”—Oakland Tribune
“Its a delight to have it in translation at last because this is a riveting good story about pride, obsession and—gulp—mathematics. Have no fear if youre somewhat left-brain deficient in the math department like me; Doxiadiss narrative is easy to follow… First and foremost Doxiadis is a storyteller extraordinaire. Hell keep you turning the pages to get at the uncles story and in that story unfolds the life and world of a mathematical scholar who single-mindedly pursued one goal: the proving of Goldbachs Conjecture.”—Barcelona Review
About the Author
received a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics from Columbia University and a Master's Degree in Applied Mathematics from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris. He has run a number of successful computer companies, as well as written and directed for both the screen and the stage. The second of his two feature films, Tetriem
, won the prize of the International Center for Artistic Cinema at the 1988 Berlin International Film Festival. Mr. Doxiadis lives in Athens, Greece