a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Songs My Mother Never Taught Me (2007)
Selçuk Altun

After his mother's death, a young Turkish man seeks his father's killer. His father was a very charismatic, conceited and famous mathematician, but aside from that there is little math in the book. The mathematical points of interest include:
  • The father is described as being "unmatched in Graph Theory" and publishing in The Journal of Combinatorial Theory.
  • Strangely, the author seems not to know what "graph theory" is. His description "the ability to define the concepts of daily life that relate to mathematics, in the language of numbers" (which the book itself calls unsatisfactory) is so far from satisfactory as to be ridiculous. (Graph theory is the branch of mathematics that studies the ways in which a collection of points can be connected by lines. This does have applications. For instance, as applied in Who Killed the Duke of Densmore? the points represent people and lines between them indicate that the people were in the same place at the same time. More realistically, graph theory is applied by those who study the Internet, for instance with points being Websites and lines between them indicating that one page contains a link to the other.)
  • The father is said to have had the ability to multiply five digit numbers in his head. The son has the ability to similarly multiply six digit numbers, but hides this skill from his parents.
Some readers may appreciate the inclusion of post-modernist twists (e.g. the author appears as a character, chapters alternate being from the point of view of the son and the assassin, etc.), but I found the characters to be unpleasant stereotypes (not just the condescending mathematician, but others as well), the sex and violence in poor taste, and the attempts at creativity too heavy handed. (Of course, some of this may be the fault of the translators. I have read the 2008 English translation by Telegram and not the original Annemin Öğretmediği Şarkılar!)

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Works Similar to Songs My Mother Never Taught Me
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Echoes from the Past by Edward Michel-Bird
  2. Who Killed the Duke of Densmore? by Claude Berge
  3. The 351 Books of Irma Arcuri by David Bajo
  4. Fermat's Room (La Habitacion de Fermat) by Luis Piedrahita / Rodrigo Sopeña
  5. Hickory Dickory Shock! The Tale of Techies by Sundip Gorai
  6. The Crimson Cipher by Susan Page Davis
  7. All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen
  8. Oh, Brother by Stanley Hart
  9. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  10. The Visiting Professor by Robert Littell
Ratings for Songs My Mother Never Taught Me:
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:
1/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)

GenreMystery, Adventure/Espionage,
MotifRomance, Religion,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)