Uncle Petros & Goldbach's Conjecture-5 Copy Prepack

Apostolos K. Doxiadis, Author Bloomsbury Publishing PLC $19.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-58234-079-1
An ambitious young man's doomed search for truth through mathematics is the theme of this intriguing debut from Greek film director, computer expert and mathematician Doxiadis. The narrator, a young man living with his parents in Athens, describes his fascination with his reclusive Uncle Petros, who is considered a failure by his family. When his nephew shows a zeal for math, Petros offers him a problem that the youth cannot solve even after a summer's work: proof that any even number greater than two is the sum of two primes. The narrator soon learns that this problem, called Goldbach's Conjecture, is more than 200 years old and has remained famously unsolved. Enraged and frustrated, he confronts his uncle, only to discover that Petros has been psychologically crippled by the Conjecture for decades. When he was a young scholar determined to pursue distinction in the world of mathematics, Petros decided to tackle the theorem. But as the proof revealed itself to be impossible, the pursuit became a nightmare in which Petros imagined that numbers had taken human form and were speaking to him. As Petros lost hope of solving the proof, he lost his grip on sanity and his job as a professor at the University of Munich. An obsession with chess replaced Petros's fixation with the theorem, and he settled down into a calmer but far less challenging life. After hearing the story, Petros's nephew goads the now elderly man into renewing the search he dropped years ago--and the results are disastrous. This carefully constructed narrative is occasionally stiff or formal, and the necessary mathematical discussions (including references to G.H. Hardy, Kurt Godel, J.E. Littlewood and Srinivasa Ramanujan) may be over most readers' heads. But Doxiadis keeps the story engaging by focusing on the development of two compelling characters--the fervent nephew and his thorny, driven uncle--and despite its flaws, the novel is captivating. Author tour; rights sold in Greece, Italy, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and the U.K. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-1-58234-067-8
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-1-58234-128-6
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