a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Banana Girls (2017)
Karim F. Hirji

This rare example of African mathematical fiction was written by a Fellow of the Tanzania Academy of Sciences who previously won awards for his work on the statistical analysis of small sample discrete data. The novel follows two very smart school girls who become obsessed with bananas. It does not only focus on math. There is a bit of history, botany, dietary science, physics, humanities, and humanism. Moreover, politics is a major (though subtle) theme throughout the whole book.

But, of course, I would not be listing it here if it there was not a mathematical component as well. There are math jokes ("ba(na)2") and mathematical problems ("The hungry Baba Nyani enters the kitchen at night and eats 1/6 of a banana bunch...How many bananas were there at the outset?"). Moreover, the banana girls demonstrate their mathematical ability both by being able to memorize digits of π and by publishing their original mathematical physics research ("Towards a Probabilistic Formulation of the Special Theory of Relativity").

Eventually, the novel's plot extends beyond the lives of just these two children. The threat of the Banana Liberation Front (BLF) brings a hint of espionage into play, a government agency's misuse of statistics provides another opportunity to address mathematics, and references to "President Grump" offer another opportunity for political commentary as well.

Non fictional appendices include "Banana Basics", "Banana Culture" (such as the lyrics to Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song"), "Banana Mathematics" and "Banana Readings".

The book is currently for sale at

More information about this work can be found at
(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 The Banana Girls
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Math Girls by Hiroshi Yuki
  2. Distress by Greg Egan
  3. Mother's Milk by Andrew Thomas Breslin
  4. When We Cease to Understand the World [Un Verdor Terrible] by Benjamin Labatut
  5. Stella Maris by Cormac McCarthy
  6. The Divine Proportions of Luca Pacioli by W.A.W. Parker
  7. Night of the Eerie Equations by Robert Black
  8. La formule de Stokes, roman by Michèle Audin
  9. Il Bimbo e le Meraviglie Matematiche [The Child and the Wonder of Mathematics] by Letterio Gatto
  10. Prime Suspects: The Anatomy of Integers and Permutations by Andrew Granville / Jennifer Granville / Robert J. Lewis (Illustrator)
Ratings for The Banana Girls:
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:
3/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (1 votes)

MotifProdigies, Female Mathematicians, Math Education,
TopicMathematical Physics, Real Mathematics, Probability/Statistics,

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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)