What do Aner Shalev and Nike Vatsal have in common?

My mother-in-law was toting around a book of short stories translated from the Hebrew and I saw a familiar name on the front:  Aner Shalev.  Not the same Aner Shalev as the group theorist I know, surely — but no, I checked, and it’s him!  Good story, too, actually not a story but an excerpt from his 2004 novel Dark Matter (or I guess I should say Hachomer Haafel since it doesn’t seem to exist in English.)  It was good!

Sometime last year I was in a coffee shop in Berkeley doing math with Tom Church and on the bookshelf there was an old issue of Story, and in the table of contents I found Vinayak Vatsal.  Not the same Vinayak Vatsal as the number theorist I know, surely, but….  yep, it was him.  I only got to read the beginning of Nike’s story because I was supposed to be doing math, but that one was good too, what I read.

How many mathematicians are secretly placing stories in literary magazines, I’d like to know?

 

 

 

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7 thoughts on “What do Aner Shalev and Nike Vatsal have in common?

  1. Michael Lugo says:

    Surely the Jordan Ellenberg who wrote The Grasshopper King isn’t the same Jordan Ellenberg as the arithmetic geometer I know.

  2. byesac says:

    I suppose more than the number of mathematicians who appear on the “Today” show. I don’t know these mathematicians, but I’ll look them up.

  3. Richard Séguin says:

    I was surprised to find out that Bram Stoker, author of Dracula and other novels and short stories, graduated from college with honors in mathematics. One source seemed to indicate that his math education may have gone beyond standard undergraduate courses. His math career seemed to end there though as he pursued a literary career with a day job managing John Iriving’s theatre. Apparently there was one mention of “conic section” in one of his short stories.

    Interestingly, his novel Dracula, his first work, was presented entirely by journal/diary entries and letters written by various characters in the novel. (Are there other examples of this?) All those discrete parts had to work together to tell a story*, not entirely unlike a math book consisting mostly of discrete definitions, lemmas, propositions, and theorems that all have to work together and add up to a story of sorts.

    *This worked pretty well. I enjoyed the novel more than I expected.

  4. Concerning the structure of Dracula: “Epistolary novels” were relatively popular at some point in France also; one of the best known is “Les liaisons dangereuses” (1782), but the idea goes back further: one that comes to mind is “Les lettres persannes” by Montesquieu (1721).

    As far as mathematicians writing books, a mathematical-physicist friend of mine (Walter Appel) has also written a book of short stories (which won an award in France). He has unfortunately left research since then…

  5. (I’m embarrassed about knowing this, since I can’t reading Italian or advanced geometry.)

  6. And I forgot the French analytic number theorist Gérald Tenenbaum, who has published quite a few novels and (I think) plays.

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