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The Indian Clerk
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About the Author

David Leavitt is the author of several novels, including The Body of Jonah Boyd, While England Sleeps, and Equal Affections. A recipient of fellowships from both the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, he teaches at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Reviews

Ambitious, erudite and well-sourced, Leavitt's 12th work of fiction centers on the relationship between mathematicians G.H. Hardy (1877-1947) and Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920). In January of 1913, Cambridge-based Hardy receives a nine-page letter filled with prime number theorems from S. Ramanujan, a young accounts clerk in Madras. Intrigued, Hardy consults his colleague and collaborator, J.E. Littlewood; the two soon decide Ramanujan is a mathematical genius and that he should emigrate to Cambridge to work with them. Hardy recruits the young, eager don, Eric Neville, and his wife, Alice, to travel to India and expedite Ramanujan's arrival; Alice's changing affections, WWI and Ramanujan's enigmatic ailments add obstacles. Meanwhile, Hardy, a reclusive scholar and closeted homosexual, narrates a second story line cast as a series of 1936 Harvard lectures, some of them imagined. Ramanujan comes to renown as the "the Hindu calculator"; discussions of mathematics and bits of Cambridge's often risque academic culture (including D.H. Lawrence's 1915 visit) add authenticity. Hardy is hardly likable, however, and Leavitt (While England Sleeps, etc.) packs too much into the epic-length proceedings, at the expense of pace. (Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Set at Cambridge University in the early 20th century, this ambitious new historical novel from the author of The Lost Language of Cranes is based on the life of English mathematician G.H. Hardy and his partnership with the self-taught Indian genius Ramanujan, whom Hardy was instrumental in bringing to England. Although Leavitt has written with a very literate reader in mind and has clearly done his math homework, it is not necessary to know anything about the featured Reimann hypothesis to enjoy this excellent book. Among the many themes explored here are the conflict between scientific rationalism and ancient religious traditions, the terrible culture shock Indians felt in England 100 years ago, the disastrous effect the Great War had on life in Cambridge, and, most of all, the frailty of human relationships. Highly recommended for all academic libraries and also suggested for larger public collections.-Leslie Patterson, Brown Univ. Lib., Providence, RI Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"A loving exploration of one of the greatest collaborations of the past century, THE INDIAN CLERK is a novel that brilliantly orchestrates questions of colonialism, sexual identity and the nature of genius."--Manil Suri, author of "The Death of Vishnu" Praise for David Leavitt:
" [Leavitt is] one of his generation' s most gifted writers." -- "New York Times,"
" A superb modern novelist of feeling." -- "Kirkus"" Reviews"
" He is in full command of a sharp, elegant style." -- "USA Today"
" Remarkably gifted." -- "Washington Post"
" Leavitt' s style... flashes with pathos, anger, and camp wit; it rises to a subtle urban lyricism." -- "Vogue"
" There' s no literary writer whose work I more enjoy for its elegance and its wit and its world-wisdom than the work of David Leavitt." -- Robert Olen Butler
" Excellent... highly recommended." -- "Library Journal," starred review "A loving exploration of one of the greatest collaborations of the past century, THE INDIAN CLERK is a novel that brilliantly orchestrates questions of colonialism, sexual identity and the nature of genius."--Manil Suri, author of "The Death of Vishnu" Praise for David Leavitt:
" [Leavitt is] one of his generation' s most gifted writers." -- "New York Times,"
" A superb modern novelist of feeling." -- "Kirkus"" Reviews"
" He is in full command of a sharp, elegant style." -- "USA Today"
" Remarkably gifted." -- "Washington Post"
" Leavitt' s style... flashes with pathos, anger, and camp wit; it rises to a subtle urban lyricism." -- "Vogue"
" There' s no literary writer whose work I more enjoy for its elegance and its wit and its world-wisdom than the work of David Leavitt." -- Robert Olen Butler
"Excellent...highly recommended." --"Library Journal", starred review "A loving exploration of one of the greatest collaborations of the past century, THE INDIAN CLERK is a novel that brilliantly orchestrates questions of colonialism, sexual identity and the nature of genius."--Manil Suri, author of "The Death of Vishnu" Praise for David Leavitt:
"[Leavitt is] one of his generation's most gifted writers."--"New York Times".
"A superb modern novelist of feeling."--"Kirkus"" Reviews"
"He is in full command of a sharp, elegant style."--"USA Today"
"Remarkably gifted."--"Washington Post"
"Leavitt's style...flashes with pathos, anger, and camp wit; it rises to a subtle urbanlyricism."--"Vogue"
"There's no literary writer whose work I more enjoy for its elegance and its wit and its world-wisdom than the work of David Leavitt."--Robert Olen Butler
"In the most common type of historical novel, invented characters inhabit a real place at a particular point in time...The second type, rarer in so-called literary fiction, is a novel about people who really existed, recreated by an author who plays with the facts, and especially the intriguing lacunae, of their lives. "The Indian Clerk," David Leavitt's richly imagined seventh novel, is such a book, and for several reasons Leavitt is brave to attempt it...Leavitt's porttrait of Hardy is a remarkable achievement...Leavitt has been praised and condemned for the explicit sex in his fiction, but it is his candid exploration of class that sets him apart from most American writers...It's usually not possible to know real people as well as writers can know fictional characters, and it's to Leavitt's enormous credit that he makes these historical personages so vividly complex...Leavitt has a passion to inhabit the past, a particular novelistic impulse that goes beyond simple 'animation' of history. The research that went into 'The Indian Clerk' is impressive...reading it offers the pleasure of escape into another world, along with the nagging feeling of familiarity that characterizes the best historical fiction." "--New York Times Book Review"


"[I]ntelligent, ambitious." "--""Washington"" Post Book World"
"This is a daring novel in a most unusual way. It is as if David Leavitt had challenged himself to novelize the subject most inimical to fiction, and when the eureka moment arrived, it was a vision of -- mathematics!" "--""Los Angeles"" Times Book Review"
"Excellent...highly recommended." --"Library Journal," starred review "A profoundly moving tale that illuminates theagony of repressed feelings and the thrill of intellectual discovery. Think Remains of the Day meets Good Will Hunting.""--Entertainment Weekly"
"Leavitt's copiously researched new novel focuses on a relatively narrow world that he nevertheless illuminates into its deepest recesses...Leavitt explores the legend that grew up around Ramanujan, finds what is real in the myth that shrouded his actual being, and in the process reaches impressive heights of understanding the psyche of the intellectual as well as those who seek company with the brilliant-minded.""--Booklist"
"The certainty attributed to mathematics is richly contrasted to the uncertainty of human relationships in Leavitt's unusual and absorbing eighth novel...impressively researched, insistently readable and keenly sensitive...easily Leavitt's best--and a heartening indication that [Leavitt] has reached a new level of artistic maturity.""--Kirkus"
"Ambitious, erudite and well-sourced.""--Publishers Weekly"
"Thanks for sending the new David Leavitt. I think its the best book he's written in years. I know almost nothing about mathematics and that doesn't get in the way of the sheer reading pleasure the book has given me for the last week and a half. Merci."--Steve Fischer, Executive Director, NEBA
"A loving exploration of one of the greatest collaborations of the past century, THE INDIAN CLERK is a novel that brilliantly orchestrates questions of colonialism, sexual identity and the nature of genius."--Manil Suri, author of "The Death of Vishnu" Praise for David Leavitt:
"[Leavitt is] one of his generation's most gifted writers."--"New York Times,"
"A superb modern novelist offeeling."--"Kirkus"" Reviews"
"He is in full command of a sharp, elegant style."--"USA Today"
"Remarkably gifted."--"Washington Post"
"Leavitt's style...flashes with pathos, anger, and camp wit; it rises to a subtle urban lyricism."--"Vogue"
"There's no literary writer whose work I more enjoy for its elegance and its wit and its world-wisdom than the work of David Leavitt."--Robert Olen Butler


"Mathematics and its paradoxes provide a deep vein of metaphor that Leavitt uses to superb effect, demonstrating how the most meaningful relationships can defy both logic and imagination." -- "The New Yorker"


"Leavitt, a fine writer, has captured not just the complex nature of their partnership, but also a sense of the context: In his telling, England at the turn of the 20th century fits the phrase he uses to describe a particular boarding house, as "a room grown stale from its own protection." But beneath the surface of this story lurk issues that feel as fresh as today's news. Most importantly, the novel addresses the clash of cultures as Britain's empire-building came home to roost. "--"Seattle Times"
"Ambitious, meaty, extensively researched...[a] richly layered, rueful portrait...Leavitt has tapped into marvelous material...stimulating and refreshingly original." -- "San Francisco Chronicle"
"This novel is brilliant. It is a beautiful and creative work that manages to portray a melange of the literary, historical, romantic and academic, with breathtaking prose and deeply nuanced characters."--"Pittsburg Post-Gazette"
"Fascinating...Leavitt makes the math of prime numbers surprisingly palatable. But we learn more about the complexities of love and work, and their interaction. In Hardy, Leavitt has created a rich character for the reader to care about." -- "Boston Globe"
"[E]rudite and well researched, and Leavitt writes about pure mathematics in a way that won't utterly baffle those of us who didn't get beyond pre-calculus in high school ." --"Christian Science Monitor"
"In the most common type of historical novel, invented charactersinhabit a real place at a particular point in time...The second type, rarer in so-called literary fiction, is a novel about people who really existed, recreated by an author who plays with the facts, and especially the intriguing lacunae, of their lives. "The Indian Clerk," David Leavitt's richly imagined seventh novel, is such a book, and for several reasons Leavitt is brave to attempt it...Leavitt's porttrait of Hardy is a remarkable achievement...Leavitt has been praised and condemned for the explicit sex in his fiction, but it is his candid exploration of class that sets him apart from most American writers...It's usually not possible to know real people as well as writers can know fictional characters, and it's to Leavitt's enormous credit that he makes these historical personages so vividly complex...Leavitt has a passion to inhabit the past, a particular novelistic impulse that goes beyond simple 'animation' of history. The research that went into 'The Indian Clerk' is impressive...reading it offers the pleasure of escape into another world, along with the nagging feeling of familiarity that characterizes the best historical fiction." "-New York Times Book Review"
"[I]ntelligent, ambitious." "-""Washington"" Post Book World"
"This is a daring novel in a most unusual way. It is as if David Leavitt had challenged himself to novelize the subject most inimical to fiction, and when the eureka moment arrived, it was a vision of -- mathematics!" "-""Los Angeles"" Times Book Review"
"Excellent...highly recommended." -"Library Journal," starred review
"A profoundly moving tale that illuminates the agony of repressed feelings and the thrill of intellectualdiscovery. Think Remains of the Day meets Good Will Hunting.""-Entertainment Weekly"
"Leavitt's copiously researched new novel focuses on a relatively narrow world that he nevertheless illuminates into its deepest recesses...Leavitt explores the legend that grew up around Ramanujan, finds what is real in the myth that shrouded his actual being, and in the process reaches impressive heights of understanding the psyche of the intellectual as well as those who seek company with the brilliant-minded.""-Booklist"
"The certainty attributed to mathematics is richly contrasted to the uncertainty of human relationships in Leavitt's unusual and absorbing eighth novel...impressively researched, insistently readable and keenly sensitive...easily Leavitt's best-and a heartening indication that [Leavitt] has reached a new level of artistic maturity.""-Kirkus"
"Ambitious, erudite and well-sourced.""-Publishers Weekly"
"Thanks for sending the new David Leavitt. I think its the best book he's written in years. I know almost nothing about mathematics and that doesn't get in the way of the sheer reading pleasure the book has given me for the last week and a half. Merci."-Steve Fischer, Executive Director, NEBA
"A loving exploration of one of the greatest collaborations of the past century, THE INDIAN CLERK is a novel that brilliantly orchestrates questions of colonialism, sexual identity and the nature of genius."--Manil Suri, author of "The Death of Vishnu"

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