MATHEMATICAL FICTION:

a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Good Will (1989)
Jane Smiley
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A poor couple living on a rural farm deal with the intrusions of the "outside world", including an affluent and worldly African-American math professor and her young daughter.

Contributed by Marge Bayer

I don't think there is any actual mathematics in Good Will. So it may not really qualify for your list. But for some reason Jane Smiley decided to make this character (Lydia Harris) a mathematician and to specify that her field was combinatorics. (The latter was in response to a question of what she taught.) Her husband was also a mathematician, and they were experiencing the two-body problem, living apart at the time.

Note also that there was a stage adaptation (written for the Directors Company in NYC by Joan Rater and Tony Phelan) in 1998.

PS I assume the similarity between the title of this work and Good Will Hunting (1997) is just a coincidence...but could Matt Damon have read and been influenced by Smiley?

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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 Good Will
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Antonia's Line by Marleen Gorris
  2. The Embalmer's Book of Recipes by Ann Lingard
  3. Rough Strife by Lynne Sharon Schwartz
  4. Zilkowski's Theorem by Karl Iagnemma
  5. Mefisto: A Novel by John Banville
  6. Leeches by David Albahari
  7. Tigor (aka The Snowflake Constant) by Peter Stephan Jungk
  8. The 351 Books of Irma Arcuri by David Bajo
  9. Orpheus Lost: A Novel by Janette Turner Hospital
  10. The Mathematics of Nina Gluckstein by Esther Vilar
Ratings for Good Will:
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:
5/5 (1 votes)
.

Categories:
Genre
MotifAcademia, Female Mathematicians,
Topic
MediumNovels,

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(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)