MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The City of Devi (2013)
Manil Suri
(click on names to see more mathematical fiction by the same author)
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Manil Suri, the author of this erotic, dystopian, Indian adventure, is a professional mathematician. And so, it is not surprising that there is some mathematics in it. However, there really is not much and so that will probably not be the deciding factor in whether you love or hate this book, which seem to be the two most common reactions readers have to it.

Most of the mathematical content occurs towards the beginning as the protagonist's character is being set up. She majored in statistics as an undergraduate:

(quoted from The City of Devi)

...all those exotic-sounding curves, from Gaussian to gamma to chi, I sheepishly confessed, drew me in.

Because of her choice of major and her success in school, she was pigeonholed into the role of the anti-social nerd:

(quoted from The City of Devi)

By the time I finished my bachelor's in statistics, I had experienced the first inklings of how lonely a future might be lying in wait. "Numbers are her friends," everyone kept repeating, as if I shrank from the prospect of two-legged company.

However, the truth of the situation did not quite fit that stereotype. Her business internship after earning a graduate degree in statistics turned out to be a disaster, she continued to dream of romance and she did not share her colleagues' love of statistics:

(quoted from The City of Devi)

But I kept yearning for something more -- I could not be sustained just by my love of the discipline. I envied the most driven of my classmates, the ones whose eyes lit up with compulsive interest at the very mention of Bayesian theory, who launched into animated lunchtime discussions of unbiased estimators and Markov chains. Why wasn't I as possessed as they were? Why didn't I share their obsessive desire to blaze a fiery career path across the subject's firmament? Why did I keep mooning over such mundane distractions as falling in love or getting married?

Soon, she finds romance in the form of a physicist that a friend sets her up with. There is even a bit of statistics there, which she uses to analyze their sexual encounters, but mathematics becomes less important as the main plot develops.

The city of Mumbai, where they live, faces nuclear disaster and its society collapses into lawlessness. With the aid of a gay man named Jaz, she searches the city for her lover and witnesses both human horror and the appearance of Hindu gods.

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(Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)

Works Similar to The City of Devi
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
  2. River of Gods by Ian McDonald
  3. Infinities by Vandana Singh
  4. Orpheus Lost: A Novel by Janette Turner Hospital
  5. The Tolman Trick by Manil Suri
  6. The Capacity for Infinite Happiness by Alexis von Konigslow
  7. Book of Knut: a novel by Knut Knudson by Halvor Aakhus
  8. I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck
  9. 36 Arguments for the Existence of God by Rebecca Goldstein
  10. Flea Circus: A Brief Bestiary of Grief by Mandy Keifetz
Ratings for The City of Devi:
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:
2/5 (1 votes)
..
Literary Quality:
4/5 (1 votes)
..

Categories:
Genre
MotifWar, Female Mathematicians, Romance, Religion,
TopicProbability/Statistics,
MediumNovels,

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May 2016: I am experimenting with a new feature which will print a picture of the cover and a link to the Amazon.com page for a work of mathematical fiction when it is available. I hope you find this useful and convenient. In any case, please write to let me know if it is because I would be happy to either get rid of it or improve it if that would be better for you. Thanks! -Alex

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)