MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Book of Knut: a novel by Knut Knudson (2012)
Halvor Aakhus
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Halvor Aakhus, who has an undergraduate degree in math and an MFA in writing, wrote this unusual work of fiction that takes the form of a novel by an apparently dead author named Knut Knudson which has been edited and annotated his angry lover, who is a mathematician. Moreover, the lover herself appears in the novel as "Claire" and the novel is about their relationship with her mother who is dying of a brain tumor (but is portrayed in Knut's novel as Claire's father, a former math professor with a benign brain tumor).

Both the excerpts from the "novel" itself (which is identifiable in the printed version of this work since it looks like they are on water damaged paper that has been taped onto graph paper) and the annotations from the angry lover contain frequent and advanced (if not also bizarre and inappropriate) references to mathematics. These include, for example, a block matrix representing an arrangement of beer bottles and a discussion of its invertibility and a footnote that uses three pages to list all of the digits of the 24th perfect number (see below). In addition, it also mimics the structure of a math textbook by labeling claims and by including exercises, proofs and mathematical diagrams. There's also plenty of musical notation and terminology floating around in it as well.

The result is, in my opinion, creative and interesting. Although I wish there was more of a stylistic difference between the supposed writings of Knut and the annotator to make it easier to believe they were not written by the same person, I can see why this work was selected for the $10,000 "Henfield Prize for Fiction" and why David Leavitt's blurb compares him to David Foster Wallace.

For more information and also to get a sense of its bizarre atmosphere, you can visit the Book of Knut Webpage.

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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 Book of Knut: a novel by Knut Knudson
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Continuity by Buzz Mauro
  2. Problems for Self-Study by Charles Yu
  3. Problems by John Updike
  4. Borzag and the Numerical Apocalypse by Jason Earls
  5. Genghis Khan and 888 by Jason Earls
  6. Continuums by Robert Carr
  7. The Last Theorem by Buzz Mauro
  8. 36 Arguments for the Existence of God by Rebecca Goldstein
  9. Zilkowski's Theorem by Karl Iagnemma
  10. The Mathematics of Nina Gluckstein by Esther Vilar
Ratings for Book of Knut: a novel by Knut Knudson:
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:
5/5 (1 votes)
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Literary Quality:
5/5 (1 votes)
.

Categories:
Genre
MotifFemale Mathematicians, Music, Romance,
TopicAlgebra/Arithmetic/Number Theory, Analysis/Calculus/Differential, Real Mathematics,
MediumNovels,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)