The Solitude of Prime Numbers

…by Paolo Giordano.

The novel takes us through the life of two people who, after going through tragedies in their respective lives, depend on each other to find solace, yet never really come together to find happiness in one another…their lives draw parallel to prime numbers because prime numbers are lonely numbers, ones that can one be divided by itself. The novel spans over a period of more than two decades, starting from when the protagonists were kids to when they are in their mid twenties.

The story beings when Alice is a kid – she hates skiing, but is pushed by her father, who dreams of her becoming a star skier someday. Alice meets with an accident during one of her ski practice sessions, which leaves with an injured leg forever.

Mattia, the plot’s other protagonist, is a gifted child with a mentally disabled twin sister Michela. After many setbacks because of Michela’s disability, Mattia decides to go on attend a classmate’s birthday party without his sister and thus, asks her to wait in a park until he returns, assuming that she will do as instructed like she always does, and leaves her alone (8yrs old). When he returns, his sister is no where t be found, leaving him with a lifetime’s incurable wound of guilt.

The novel moves on to how both these characters meet and find comfort in each other’s company; how the tragedies that happened to them mould their lives thereafter; what challenges they face; what future holds for the two of them. Mattia, who goes on to become a mathematician, finds parallel to his and Alice’s companionship to twin primes – prime numbers that are separated by only one other number in between them (17 & 19, for ex) – not too close to be able to come together forever, yet finding support even with that one degree of separation.

Will they ever really come together? Read the book to get your answer.

A brilliant read, to say the least. The melancholy in each of the characters is crafted so well that you will be left feeling heavy. Each and every emotion, of childhood, of adolescence and of adulthood, is captured in a way that one can easily relate to it. The depth of the pain that each of them go through can’t be expressed any better than how the author does it – the words take you through the feelings as if you are living it. A page turner – not because the author builds much suspense, but because you want the characters to heal, for them to come out of shell they build for themselves, you constantly hope for them to find happiness and let go of the past grief.

The author does a great job of keeping the reader’s engrossed – the short swiftly moving chapters, the poetic flow of words that draw sympathy to the unfortunate lives of the characters, the elegance the friendships that are crafted – it’s exceptional. And the fact that this is the author’s debut novel only makes me wonder what treasures are waiting to be born out of his talent.

Overall, a morbid, yet a charming story. A gripping tale that I enjoyed it thoroughly.

My rating: 5*.

*for the rating scale, click here.

Here’s the post on Front Cover Attraction for this book written by BlueMist.


I read that the book is first written in Italian and then translated to English…makes me wish I knew Italian, because I wonder how graceful and beautiful the words would be in the original version. I’m sure it’s more magical in its original form, what do you think?