He had learned his lesson. Choices are made in a few seconds and paid for in the time that remains.
A prime number is inherently a solitary thing: it can only be divided by itself, or by one; it never truly fits with another. Alice and Mattia also move on their own axes, alone with their personal tragedies. As a child Alice's overbearing father drove her first to a terrible skiing accident, and then to anorexia. When she meets Mattia she recognises a kindred spirit, and Mattia reveals to Alice his terrible secret: that as a boy he abandoned his mentally-disabled twin sister in a park to go to a party, and when he returned, she was nowhere to be found.
These two irreversible episodes mark Alice and Mattia's lives for ever, and as they grow into adulthood their destinies seem irrevocably intertwined. But then a chance sighting of a woman who could be Mattia's sister forces a lifetime of secret emotion to the surface.
A meditation on loneliness and love, The Solitude of Prime Numbers asks, can we ever truly be whole when we're in love with another?
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A very accomplished book...A melancholic, but strangely beautiful, read. Shaun Whiteside's translation is exemplary and the acute descriptions of teenage competitiveness, angst and aspiration bring to mind Alan Warner's writing. - Guardian
In clear, heartbreakingly precise prose, the youngest ever winner of the prestigious Premio Strega (the Italian Man Booker) explores how trauma and guilt can capsize emotional stability and leave the vulnerable in a wash of unease and loss...a stunning achievement - Daily Mail
Moving...masterful...elegantly discreet - Times Literary Supplement
Genius...everybody can find in Giordano's book a small piece of himself - Il Giornale
The year's most important début - La Repubblica
The story is mesmerising - Good Housekeeping
A novel of rare acuity and invention...Giordano is adept at capturing the forthright nature of teenagers' contorted thought processes...The prose is toned and precise...a quite wonderful debut - The Spectator
A beautiful and affecting account of the ways in which seemingly inconsequential decisions reverberate so intensely as to change a life forever...This is a book about communication...an intimate psychological portrait of two 'prime numbers' - together alone and alone together. - Booklist
Cerebral yet touching debut...The novel's bleak subject matter is rendered almost beautiful by Giordano's spare, intense focus on his two characters. - Publishers Weekly
Paolo Giordano was born in Turin in 1982. He is working on a doctorate in particle physics. The Solitude of Prime Numbers, his first novel, has sold over a million copies in its native Italian, and is being translated into twenty languages. It won Italy's answer to the Man Booker Prize, the Premio Strega Award.