a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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Leeches (2011)
David Albahari

Serb author David Albahari's avant-garde novel about a newspaper columnist caught up in a Kabbalistic plot is notable in that it is written as a single, unbroken paragraph. It is also sort of interesting, if you're into surrealistic, Kafka-esque plots that don't quite make sense. And, there is a post-modern aspect to it, in the way the narrator who recites the story as a detailed "stream of consciousness" recollection often talks about writing and how the written word does not have a fixed meaning.

But, what about the math? Kabbalah often involves numerology and combinatorics, and both of those show up here. However, the narrator decides to contact an old classmate who is a professional mathematician, and this brings in interesting mathematical components. First, the character of the mathematician is a stereotype in that he is known for being anti-social and seems to be unable to explain himself clearly. Of course, in a novel like this, nothing is meant to be clear anyway. So, as the mathematician character rambles on about the infinite length of the Koch Curve, Lamé coordinates, or the Laplacian, the reader is probably not expected to understand what is being said (which is good since the formula defining the Laplacian which appears in the book is quite messed up)! The mathematician is not just a minor character, but remains important throughout the entire book.

I do not think this book is for everyone, but if you are not likely to be bothered by tiny details (like where each drop of juice from the apple that he bites lands) and a feeling of paranoia, then you might want to give this book a try.

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Works Similar to Leeches
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Solenoid by Mircea Cartarescu
  2. The Gimatria of Pi by Lavie Tidhar
  3. Pi by Darren Aronofsky (director)
  4. Habitus by James Flint
  5. At Ocean by Oliver Serang
  6. Stay Close, Little Ghost by Oliver Serang
  7. The Capacity for Infinite Happiness by Alexis von Konigslow
  8. A Universe of Sufficient Size by Miriam Sved
  9. A Doubter's Almanac by Ethan Canin
  10. My Heart Belongs to Bertie by Helen DeWitt
Ratings for Leeches:
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:
2/5 (1 votes)
Literary Quality:
4/5 (10 votes)

MotifAnti-social Mathematicians, Religion,

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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)