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The Tenth Muse

The Tenth Muse

The first thing I remember being said of me with any consistency was that I was intelligent – and I recognized even then that it was a comment leveled at me with as much disapproval as admiration. Still, I never tried to hide or suppress my mind as some girls do, and thank god, because that would have been the beginning of the end.

From childhood, Katherine knows she is different, and that her parents are not who they seem to be. But in becoming a mathematician, she faces the most human of problems – who is she? What is the cost of love, and what is the cost of ambition?

On her quest to conquer the Riemann Hypothesis, the greatest unsolved mathematical problem of her time, she turns to a theorem with a mysterious history that holds both the lock and key to her identity, and to secrets long buried during World War II. Forced to confront some of the biggest events of the twentieth century and rethink everything she knows of herself, Katherine strives to take her place in the world of higher mathematics, reclaiming the voices of the women who came before her whose love of the language of numbers connects them across generations.

The Tenth Muse is a brilliant, involving novel asking questions about who gets to tell the story of intellectual endeavour, and those who lost everything during World War II.

Praise for The Tenth Muse
‘Arresting in scope and its treatment of time, its prose at turns crystalline and richly balletic, this story pulls puzzle from puzzle – human, historical and all too contemporary’ Helen Oyeyemi
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Genre: Fiction & Related Items / Historical Fiction

On Sale: 6th June 2019

Price: £19.99

ISBN-13: 9781405544931

Reviews

Not only is the writing dazzling, this intelligent novel about a woman ahead of her time is also a proper page-turner
Good Housekeeping
Katherine is determined to be taken seriously. Here, the novel is most trenchant: in railing against the sexism for so long ingrained in academia...There is no dearth of short-changed women in history - in science or in general. The Tenth Muse is keenly aware of how easily the past can be rewritten, achievements and lives subtracted...A panegyric to women who blaze their own paths, and tell their own stories
New Scientist
Cleanly feminist-flavoured novel that contains stories within stories in ways that seem to push at the workings of the universe itself
Metro
Katherine, the narrator of this unusual novel, is an eminent American-Chinese academic fixated on the Holy Grail of mathematics...Chung is smart enough to keep the mathematics to a minimum and concentrate on the human elements in her story: a young woman's battle for acceptance in a male-dominated world; her misadventures in love; and her torturous journey to track down her real parents in Germany
Mail on Sunday, Best New Fiction
A truly spellbinding read
Woman & Home, December Book of the Month
[An] affecting tale . . . pleasingly well-crafted
Daily Mail
Enthralling
Psychologies
The Tenth Muse centers on Katherine, an aspiring mathematician whose studies take her deep into her family history, and a legacy of genius and empowerment which probes compelling questions about her identity
Entertainment Weekly
A sweeping tale of betrayal, legacy, brilliant women and WWII
USA Today
Chung's impressive, poignant second novel explores the intersections between of intellectual and familial legacies...Chung persuasively interweaves myths and legends with the real-world stories of lesser-known women mathematicians and of WWII on both the European and Asian fronts. The legacy that Katherine inherits may defy the kinds of elegant proofs to which mathematicians aspire, but Chung's novel boldly illustrates that truth and beauty can reside even amid the messiest solutions
Publishers Weekly, starred review
The cliché that boys are better at math collapses before the diamond-hard mind of a grad student whose relentless attempt to prove a legendary hypothesis exposes a deeper algorithm about herself....Chung spins her captivating novel from stories of actual women who, in her words, "posed as schoolboys, married tutors, and moved across continents, all to study and excel at mathematics
O, the Oprah Magazine
The Tenth Muse is a must-read. This beautiful, captivating novel has it all: A riveting family secret; a heroine ahead of her time; and a brilliant historical narrative that sheds light on the way we live now
J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Saints for All Occasions
Reading The Tenth Muse is like setting out on a boat for a short trip and finding the way back barred by waves that grow taller and taller. And then the boat itself turns out to be a riddle; a paper boat, each leaf bound to the other with equations of fearsome beauty. Arresting in scope and its treatment of time, its prose at turns crystalline and richly balletic, this story pulls puzzle from puzzle--human, historical, and all too contemporary
Helen Oyeyemi, author of Gingerbread
A page-turning intellectual thriller, a family romance, an alternative history of twentieth-century math - I couldn't put it down
Elif Batuman
Ambitious, mesmerizing, and immersive, The Tenth Muse gives us a character we'd follow anywhere, and journeys well worth following her on. This novel dazzles
Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers
Need a metaphor for the unassailable tangle of the self? The Riemann Hypothesis, one of the great unsolved mathematical problems, does nicely in this novel. About 50 years ago, mathematician Katherine was attempting to unpick its knot, and at the same time deal with revelations about her own family heritage
Elle
In this powerful historical novel, a female mathematician recounts the personal and professional challenges of finding her way in a male-dominated field
Shelf Awareness (starred review)
Two great enigmas form the center of this elegant novel, in which a brilliant mathematician attempts to solve the impenetrable Riemann hypothesis and learn the truth of her family history. Katherine is the daughter of an American G.I. and a Chinese immigrant who disappears when Katherine is a girl. During her childhood, in the nineteen-fifties, in Michigan, her intelligence and mixed heritage alienate many people, and lead her to wonder 'in each situation whether this time it was my femaleness or my Asianness or the combination of both that branded me different'...In the novel's portrait of her perseverance, it pays moving homage to all the 'unhailed, unnamed' women in history whose talents were dismissed
New Yorker
A powerful and virtuosically researched story about the mysteries of the head and the heart
Kirkus, starred review
A complex family history, elegant equations, romance and a heroine who refuses to be sidelined in the male-dominated world of mathematics makes this deft novel an engrossing, emotional read...There are betrayals closer to home, too, jeopardising Katherine's career, as love, ambition and intellectual endeavour come into conflict in this smart, satisfying book
Sunday Express
Catherine Chung's first book, Forgotten Country, cut my heart open; I want to read The Tenth Muse right now
R.O. Kwon
Chung uses the history and language of mathematics in The Tenth Muse to explore how the past is inextricably tied to the present. Her writing has a beautiful clarity, and the novel has an epic feel, sweeping between decades and continents without ever losing sight of the human lives at stake. This is a timely story about a woman searching for her identity in an inhospitable environment and emerging scarred but triumphant
BookPage (starred review)
A RECOMMENDED BOOK FROM: Los Angeles Times * USA Today * O, the Oprah Magazine * Buzzfeed * The Rumpus * Entertainment Weekly * Elle * BBC * Christian Science Monitor * Electric Literature * The Millions * LitHub * Publishers Weekly * Kirkus * Refinery29 * Thrillist * BookBub * Nylon * Bustle * Goodreads
The Tenth Muse is as ambitious and intriguing as the complex math problems Katherine, the protagonist of this remarkable novel, aims to solve. In this novel -the scope of which is staggering - Chung has crafted a story that is moving, elegant and richly written. Her prose, as it unfolds, becomes an elusive equation readers will yearn to solve
Roxane Gay
Can a mathematician also be an accomplished storyteller? The answer is an emphatic yes.... Elegant and absorbing fiction....Her work radiates a love of the subject....Her real subject, beyond the magic of storytelling, is the problem of identity, as shaped by gender, ethnicity, history and choice
Chicago Tribune
Catherine Chung has written a deft, spellbinding emotional puzzle-box of a book, rich and intricately layered. The Tenth Muse slowly, carefully builds to turn your every expectation on its head, and reading it feels like a glimpse of what mathematics might be in the eyes of its ablest practitioners--both secret and sublime
Téa Obreht
Chung masterfully subverts our expectations... Endlessly thrilling. An exquisite story of legacy, selfhood, survival, and integrity... The Tenth Muse is an inspiring tour de force of STEAM proportions: a riveting intersection of mathematics and art
The Rumpus