18. July 2014 · Comments Off on Early review of The Mathematician’s Shiva in Russian · Categories: Math Shiva News

can be found here. He likes it. A big hurdle with writing this book was that the cultures I was examining – Russian, Polish, math, deeply religious – were all at least a little bit of a stretch for me. I haven’t heard Russian or Polish commonly spoken since I was about five. I know some fairly advanced math and sat in on graduate level classes in mathematical physics, but I wouldn’t at all call myself a mathematician. I haven’t spent time in an Orthodox synagogue or in Torah study since I was fourteen.

My goal was to try to be authentic enough that someone well versed with any of these cultures would find the book enjoyable. There would be small glitches, no doubt, because the task of getting every detail right, even with fact checking by others better versed in these cultures, would be impossible. But I was obsessed with rooting out as many as I could, partly because I’ve thrown American books against the wall when cultural glitches (not just with facts, but with mood and attitude) have been simply too big and annoying for someone in the know, and partly out of personal pride.

I’ve heard from mathematicians who like TMS. I’ve heard from rabbis who like TMS. And now I’ve heard from one Russian. It feels good, let me tell you, to know that all the dull but necessary work to get the emotional mood and details as authentic as possible seems to have paid off. I can’t wait for the book to come out in six weeks.

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