a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Casebook (2014)
Mona Simpson

A novel written from the point of view of Miles Adler-Hart, a boy who is spying on his mother. He learns of his parents' divorce, his mother's sex life, and her lover's dark secret. Like the superheroes in the comic books they read, he and his friend seek out truth and justice. In fact, Miles and his friend write a comic book based on their "adventures" which (we are told) becomes a best-seller.

Math enters the story through his mother, who is a math professor at UCLA. Miles describes her as "nice enough looking, for a smart woman" and she describes herself as "pretty for a mathematician". The mother writes quotes by Einstein and Erdos on chalk boards. Most of the discussions of math involve the mother's lover, Eli, who works for the NSF and feels passionate about math, even though he says he cannot do it himself. He buys her a four volume set of Newman's World of Mathematics, and when he gives her a copy of The Man Who Knew Only Numbers he says "I knew [Erdos] a little when he lived with Ron Graham."

According to the acknowledgements, Simpson obtained information about math from the book Letters to a Young Mathematician and through personal communication with Andrea Bertozzi, who is a real UCLA math professor.

Unlike some other works on this list, however, the mathematics in this novel is really only of tangential interest. The main focus is on Miles' own journey from being a boy to being a man, and the joys and tragedies in the lives of those around him.

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Works Similar to Casebook
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
  2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  3. The Happy Numbers of Julius Miles by Jim Keeble
  4. The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice
  5. Long Division by Michael Redhill
  6. The Capacity for Infinite Happiness by Alexis von Konigslow
  7. Gifted by Marc Webb (director) / Tom Flynn (writer)
  8. A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin
  9. The Invention of Ana [Forestillinger om Ana Ivan] by Mikkel Rosengaard
  10. In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman
Ratings for Casebook:
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)

MotifFemale Mathematicians, Romance,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)