a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Brazzaville Beach (1990)
William Boyd

Contributed by John Dixon, Carleton University

Main character is a women studying chimpanzees in Africa, but her ex-husband is a set theorist who goes mad because he fails to prove a theorem.

Contributed by Herman De Wael

One of my favourite authors, and one of his best books. The human relations are excellent, the chimp relations frightening. The relationship with the ex-husband deteriorates because of his maths. Some maths is explained - not nearly necessary for any maths fan. Written before the proof of Fermat's last theorem.

Contributed by Iain

I think this an outstanding novel. I have taught it as a text for 17 year-old students who find the richness of its themes really engaging. You can look at it as a novel of ideas, or as a post-colonial state-of-Africa novel, or as meditation on anthropological & evolutionary matters.

Contributed by SilverBee

It has been years since I read "Brazzaville Beach," but I still think about it and remember the pleasure it gave me. It's one of the "meatiest" books I've read. I'm not a mathematician, but that doesn't stop me from reading beyond my capacity. That way when something in one book or article connects to another, it's such a joy to understand. "Brazzaville Beach" was one of those connections.

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Works Similar to Brazzaville Beach
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The Arnold Proof by Jessica Francis Kane
  2. Belonging to Karovsky by Kathryn Schwille
  3. The Wild Numbers by Philibert Schogt
  4. The Queen's Gambit by Scott Frank (writer&director) / Allan Scott (writer) / Walter Tevis (writer)
  5. The Mind-Body Problem by Rebecca Goldstein
  6. Com os Meus Olhos de Cão [With My Dog Eyes] by Hilda Hilst
  7. Mefisto: A Novel by John Banville
  8. Orpheus Lost: A Novel by Janette Turner Hospital
  9. The Last Theorem by Buzz Mauro
  10. A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin
Ratings for Brazzaville Beach:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
2.39/5 (9 votes)
Literary Quality:
3.66/5 (9 votes)

MotifMental Illness, Proving Theorems,
TopicLogic/Set Theory,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)