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Old 07-15-2020, 06:25 AM   #1
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The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano

'A prime number can only be divided by itself or by one—it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia, both "primes," are misfits who seem destined to be alone. Haunted by childhood tragedies that mark their lives, they cannot reach out to anyone else. When Alice and Mattia meet as teenagers, they recognize in each other a kindred, damaged spirit.

But the mathematically gifted Mattia accepts a research position that takes him thousands of miles away, and the two are forced to separate. Then a chance occurrence reunites them and forces a lifetime of concealed emotion to the surface.'


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There are two phases of discussion. The first begins immediately and may contain conversations about anything pre-completion of the selection including reading progress, section thoughts, outside info, etc. The second begins on the 1st and also includes anything post-completion. These are recommended to help us discuss things in a similar timeframe but anyone can discuss any part or aspect at any time.


This is the MR Literary Club selection for July 2020. Everyone is welcome so feel free to start or join in the conversation at any time; the more the merrier!



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Old 07-15-2020, 08:02 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Bookworm_Girl View Post
I've got The Solitude of Prime Numbers from my library now, and I'm ready to start reading.
Bringing this over from the other thread; I bought the audiobook and am already over an hour in. There will come a day when I read the ebook or pbook of our monthly selection, but that day is not today, lol. If we choose a book not available in audio then I'll put my current ebook on hold but otherwise I'm focusing my ebook time solely on it; I've been tackling the ebook of The Conquest of the Incas, an old lit club selection that I didn't get to at the time. But I'm finding that even if I had, I would've taken a lot longer than a month to finish as I've been working on this thing for over three months now and am only a third of the way through so far. I may technically be farther along as I would think the supporting materials at the end will take up a very substantial chunk but I'm not looking ahead to see so that if the actual book does finish earlier then I'll be pleasantly surprised when I get there. But Kindle estimates the amount of time left to finish reading a book and, luckily for me, I only have about 22 hours left!

Annnnnyway, I'm enjoying the Giordano and saw when searching covers that there was a film made of it. Coincidentally whilst looking I was paused at the (first? only? I don't know yet) locker room scene on audio and the film poster is of a/the locker room scene.

I'd never heard of this book before it was nominated this month. I am wondering after seeing the cover with two apples and the cover with two peas in a pod if the point will eventually come up that two is a prime number as well.

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Old 07-17-2020, 07:16 PM   #3
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I have started the book. I think it will be a fast read. I am about 20% complete so I’ve read the locker scene. I hadn’t seen the apple cover. I suppose it suggests the two protagonists are more alike (apples) than different (oranges).

It took me months to finish The Conquest of the Incas. It’s a very long book but quite interesting.
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Old 07-22-2020, 04:27 PM   #4
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I've finished and definitely have some thoughts that I'll wait on until others are done too.
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Old 07-23-2020, 12:03 AM   #5
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I finished too. This novel definitely fit the theme of distancing in many ways beyond the two protagonists. I wasn’t sure the first 20% or so (high school is brutal), but it grew on me more and more as I read. I’m ready to discuss.
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Old 07-23-2020, 07:06 PM   #6
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I also have finished.

Wasn't too convinced about the ending but maybe I missed something, however otherwise thought it a good read and was pleased to have been pointed to it.
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Old 07-24-2020, 01:47 PM   #7
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I wasn't sure about it during the first part. I thought it may be a book about them getting together by the end and helping to solve each other's problems, which would've been a hard sell for me. In the end though I thought the author kept the book true to the characters' personalities and I really liked it.

Only vaguely, but it did remind me somewhat of the old lit club selection Remains of the Day with (spoiler alert if you haven't read both) the characters isolated lives and never being able to really come together despite their obvious connection and importance to one another.

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Old 07-25-2020, 03:01 PM   #8
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Something I was wondering is if the name Alice is common in Italy. When the book first began I had a moment of wondering if the translator had changed her name, lol. I looked up the Italian-language Goodreads description to make sure it hadn't. The English-language narrator of course pronounced it as normal in English but I wonder how it's pronounced in Italian. I would guess Italians know the English pronunciation of the name but my mind automatically kept thinking of the name pronounced the Italian way which I'd guess would be something like ah-LEE-che. In writing this post I even thought to watch the Italian language trailer for the film to see if her name is said, and to see if there's an audiobook in the original Italian on Audible to listen to a sample of especially since the first chapter is about her. No luck on either.
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Old 07-25-2020, 04:48 PM   #9
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I also wondered about her name. I found this info that shows the popularity of the name Alice.
https://www.italianames.com/name-meaning/alice.php
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Old 07-25-2020, 06:43 PM   #10
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I found something! I had the idea to search for author interviews on youtube in Italian and in this five minute clip I thought he might never say their names but he does around the three minute mark. Alice is pronounced ah-lee-che by the author.

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I also wondered about her name. I found this info that shows the popularity of the name Alice.
https://www.italianames.com/name-meaning/alice.php
Thanks! The name is more popular in Italy than I would've thought.
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Old 07-26-2020, 07:21 PM   #11
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Here is info on the Italian Strega Prize and a list of past winners. Paolo Giordano is the youngest author to win this award.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strega_Prize
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The Strega Prize (Italian: Premio Strega [ˈprɛːmjo ˈstreːɡa]) is the most prestigious Italian literary award. It has been awarded annually since 1947 for the best work of prose fiction written in the Italian language by an author of any nationality and first published between 1 May of the previous year and 30 April.

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Old 07-26-2020, 07:23 PM   #12
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The publisher (Penguin Random House) has a reading guide posted on their website which includes an insightful interview with the author.
https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/b...readers-guide/
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Old 07-26-2020, 07:48 PM   #13
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The ending was not what I expected. I thought Mattia would return to Italy forever, and he and Alice would develop their friendship into a romantic relationship/marriage. Although, since they are twin primes, it's impossible to close that distance between them. Alone but together in their solitude is what draws them to each other. However I feel that in the ending they were both showing emotional growth in the separate paths that they took going forward.

I thought it was interesting that even though they reject (Mattia) or are rejected by (Alice) the outside world there are others who love them and want to engage with them in a meaningful relationship that they have difficulty connecting with. There is also pain for their family, friends, coworkers and romantic interests from the inability to get through their hard shells of solitude.

One aspect that I did not expect in the novel for both of the characters was the self-harming, Mattia through cutting and Alice through anorexia (also the tattoo symbolism).
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Old 07-29-2020, 10:58 PM   #14
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I find that many novels have endings where I get the feeling that the author really didn't know how to wind the story up, or how to leave it with some sort of tenseness if not would up, or else they finish it up in some sort of untidy rush. Many novels do do it better, even in the early days of novels Robinson Crusoe got rescued in literary style and, of course, mysteries almost always end with a tidy wind up.

With The Solitude of Prime Numbers I felt that the author could have wound the story up at anytime throughout it in one of the dips in the story in the same open ended way as it did without a conclusion, or else just keep writing a longer story than it was covering the continuing ups and downs of the two characters' lives. It wouldn't have affected the story in any way apart from the word count. Because of that, while I did enjoy the book while reading it, after reaching the end I felt as if I had been short changed by having read a story that never got anywhere.

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Old 07-30-2020, 03:38 PM   #15
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An example would be Mattia’s interaction with the girl his university colleague set him up with at the dinner party. I felt that was kind of rushed and not really developed - certainly not in the way that Alice’s relationship with her husband unfolded.
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