a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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The Argentine Ant (2017)
T.C. Boyle

A mathematician, his wife, and their baby who suffers from a skin sensitivity condition uproot their lives and move to a new city:

(quoted from The Argentine Ant)

This was an adventure, pure and simple. Or more than an adventure; an escape. We took the train and then a succession of buses, the last of which deposited us in front of Signora Mauro's rambling house in the village, and all the time the baby was well-behaved and my wife, Anina, and I stared out the jolting windows and dreamed of a long period of respite in our lives, she no longer trapped in a minimum-wage job as a temporary secretary and I free to work on solving the projective algebraic problem known as the Hodge Conjecture and thereby winning the one-million-dollar Millennium Prize, a sum that would set us up handily for some time to come. Did I have unrealistic expectations? Perhaps. But I was twenty-eight years old and terminally exhausted with the classroom and academic life, and it is a truism that mathematicians, like poets, do their best work before thirty.

However, they had not counted on the horrific ant infestations that plague the residents of their new home town. Will the ants thwart their plans or inspire the young mathematician to come up with a proof?

Clearly inspired by a very similar story with the same title by Italo Calvino, Boyle's version was published in his collection "The Relive Box and Other Stories". (Click on Amazon link for more details.)

More information about this work can be found at
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Works Similar to The Argentine Ant
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Incomplete Proofs by John Chu
  2. The Idiot by Elif Batuman
  3. Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich
  4. A Good Problem to Have by B.J. Novak
  5. What the Revolution Requires by Timons Esaias
  6. A House for Living by Nicolette Polek
  7. Matrices by Steven Nightingale
  8. Naked Came the Post-modernist by Sarah Lawrence College Writing Class WRIT-3303-R / Melvin Jules Bukiet
  9. Problems for Self-Study by Charles Yu
  10. Midtown Pythagoras by Michael Brodsky
Ratings for The Argentine Ant:
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)

MotifProving Theorems,
TopicReal Mathematics,
MediumShort Stories,

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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)