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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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. Stay Close, Little Ghost by Oliver Serang
  3. The Capacity for Infinite Happiness by Alexis von Konigslow
  4. Com os Meus Olhos de Cão [With My Dog Eyes] by Hilda Hilst
  5. The Embalmer's Book of Recipes by Ann Lingard
  6. Rough Strife by Lynne Sharon Schwartz
  7. Zilkowski's Theorem by Karl Iagnemma
  8. The 351 Books of Irma Arcuri by David Bajo
  9. At Ocean by Oliver Serang
  10. 36 Arguments for the Existence of God by Rebecca Goldstein
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)
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Categories:
Genre
MotifAcademia, Female Mathematicians,
Topic
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)