a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Math Olympian (2015)
Richard Hoshino

A novel about a girl hoping to be on the Canadian team to the International Mathematical Olypmiad written by someone who should know what it is like. (FYI The author earned a silver medal as part of the Canadian team at the 1996 International Mathematical Olympiad in Mumbai.)

I must admit that I have not had a chance to read this book yet, apart from the free samples available on Hoshino's Webpage, but it has glowing reviews from a large number of readers. From what I've seen, it seems to fall into the genre I call "didactic" in that the focus is on what one can learn about math, with the plot and characters serving only as motivation for those didactic goals. The book features real (and really challenging) mathematical problems. In a way, reading about how the character approaches them is similar to what one might do with a coach in preparation for mathematics competitions. If you have read the book and can add more information, please let me know!

Contributed by Jim Marsalis

The mathematics is excellent, with a variety of problems presented as part of the plot line. The story is probably secondary to the mathematics, but is it well-done. The difficulties of being a female in what has been a male-dominated competition are well-presented. There is much here regarding the philosophy of how math should be done. In many ways, it reminds one of the Math Girls series, which also blend math with plots about high school kids who love mathematics. This may be be my second favorite math-related novel, trailing only A Certain Ambiguity. Even for folks who find the problems too challenging (as I sometimes did) the explanations of the various solutions can teach one a lot about problem-solving.

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to The Math Olympian
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Question 3 by Martin Sandahl (Director and Writer)
  2. Golden Math [Suugaku Golden] by Kuramaru Tatsuhiko
  3. Night of the Eerie Equations by Robert Black
  4. In Search of the Shortest Way [Das Geheimnis des kürzesten Weges] by Peter Gritzmann
  5. Sophie Simon Solves them All by Lisa Graff
  6. Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen by Kathryn Walat (playwright)
  7. Geek Abroad by Piper Banks
  8. Küplerin Savasi by Ahmet Baki Yerli
  9. Kayip Piramit - Sayilarin Izinde by Ahmet Baki Yerli
  10. Mean Girls by Tina Fey (screenplay) / Mark S. Waters (director)
Ratings for The Math Olympian:
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 (2 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (2 votes)

GenreDidactic, Young Adult,
MotifFemale Mathematicians, Math Education,
TopicReal Mathematics,

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Exciting News: The 1,600th entry was recently added to this database of mathematical fiction! Also, for those of you interested in non-fictional math books let me (shamelessly) plug the recent release of the second edition of my soliton theory textbook.

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)