Sunday, 25 July 2010

The Solitude of Prime Numbers - Paolo Giordano

Whoever believed physics and literature cannot coexist together is proven wrong by the Italian physicist and future successful writer Paolo Giordano. His first novel, The Solitude of Prime Numbers is the shaking story of two confused and lost souls, two suffering creatures trying to find their place in the world.

Surprisingly, Giordano's profession is as far from literature as one can imagine. Born in 1982, the young writer is a certificated physicist, working on a PhD in elementary particles. Despite the dry and purely scientific matter of his studies, his imagination, style of writing, and use of language are vivid, empowering, and inspiring. Of course, you can easily tell that this is his first literary work. I must admit, though, that the young Italian has a potential to delight us with some masterpiece in the near future. 

The Solitude of Prime Numbers is about Aliche and Matia - two lonely people deeply connected by the dramatic events that shaped their life. While skiing in the mountain Aliche falls and badly hurts her foot. As a result, she becomes lame for life. The girl expresses her insecurity and depression in anorexie; she hides her feelings behind the photo camera and isolates from the surrounding world. Matia is ashamed of his retarded twin sister and leaves her alone in the park. After she disappears, Matia starts cutting himself with sharp objects and dives into mathematics. Aliche and Matia meet in high school and immediately find a powerful connection between each other. Both of them have experienced tragic events; both have found an unhealthy way to deal with their guilt and insecurities; both of them are like prime numbers - they are only divisible by 1 and by themselves. Yet, some prime numbers are twins - they are separated by 2: 3 and 5; 11 and 13; 17 and 19. In the same way Matia and Aliche are twins, destined to be close to each other, yet never really be together. 

If I start explaining how much I enjoyed and loved the book, this whole blog wouldn't be enough. As a story, the plot might seem trivial to you. I will controvert this argument by pointing out - the novel is not about the plot; it is about the feelings and expressions of two lost souls; about their endless, sometimes desperate search of a place in the world; about the rock bottom they hit before managing to get up and keep walking. All people experience shaking and tragic moments in their lives. I call them defining and changing. Defining - because the hardest times reveal the kind of person one really is; changing - because if one is to survive, one has to change and adapt.

The Solitude of Prime Numbers is real and inspiring. It is hardly a positive and light novel. However, do not be tempted by her easy language to call it an easy read. If you look closely between the lines, you will find (at least I did) a deep and profound understanding of the human nature and feelings. Giordano creates a novel about depression, guilt, and insecurity. However, The Solitude of Prime Numbers for me is highly optimistic as it proves that whatever one passes through, one can always find the right way (or the right person) to continue fighting. Aliche and Matia are those people for each other. Their story is inspiring and after finishing the novel I didn't feel depressed or low. Instead, I felt a powerful feeling slowly spreading through my body. A feeling that I can beat everything. 

PS: If this hasn't convinced you to buy the book, try looking at the picture of the author. So cute isn't he? And smart!


  1. This guy is the second cutest physicist in the world after me :) S. Hawkings :P

  2. We will need a proof of that :)