Literary The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
#11  Bookworm_Girl 07-26-2020, 07:21 PM
Here is info on the Italian Strega Prize and a list of past winners. Paolo Giordano is the youngest author to win this award.
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.

#12  Bookworm_Girl 07-26-2020, 07:23 PM
The publisher (Penguin Random House) has a reading guide posted on their website which includes an insightful interview with the author.

#13  Bookworm_Girl 07-26-2020, 07:48 PM
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).

#14  AnotherCat 07-29-2020, 10:58 PM
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.

#15  Bookworm_Girl 07-30-2020, 03:38 PM
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.

#16  sun surfer 08-02-2020, 04:06 AM
One more thing about the name Alice... I had noticed about the name early on, especially because as mentioned even though I now know the name has a specifically Italian pronunciation, the audio narrator pronounced it with the English pronunciation while the rest of the names sound Italian (or Spanish as with Sol) even if pronounced by an English narrator.

So with that preface, nearer the end of the book when Mattia returns to Italy and looks for Alice at her father's home Sol tells him, "Alice doesn't live here anymore". My mind immediately noticed that, since it is the exact title of an old film, one of Martin Scorsese's first major ones from the 1970's. I couldn't help but think it was intentional because it's such a specific phrase with a specific name used, and the scene could've even been skipped since it's basically extraneous and he even almost skipped going there and knew going that she probably wouldn't be there. I know the book was written in Italian but I'd suppose the film's Italian title might also exactly align with what Sol says in the Italian version too.

The old film is not really anything like this book but I'm thinking Giordano just really liked the film or something and included the phrase, maybe just for fun. The film does have some similarities with our selection, both being naturalistic straightforward dramas with romances and both being structured to move the story along with snippets of various everyday life scenes.

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