"People who love mathematics will tell you that part of its beauty is its inherent duality. It is a practical tool to understand our world and a profound exploration of the limits of human thought. It is equally at home with the sciences and with philosophy. It is concrete and it contains bitter controversies. It is mundane and it is transcendent. Karen Olsson's beautiful new book illuminates the strange beauty of mathematics as it weaves her own story with those of Simone and André Weil, the singularly talented French siblings—one a philosopher and one a mathematician—who pushed each other to the edges of human understanding."
One of Lit Hub's 10 Books You Should Read This July
"I was riveted. Olsson is evocative on curiosity as an appetite of the mind, on the pleasure of glutting oneself on knowledge." --Parul Sehgal, The New York Times
An eloquent blend of memoir and biography exploring the Weil siblings, math, and creative inspiration
Karen Olsson’s stirring and unusual third book, The Weil Conjectures, tells the story of the brilliant Weil siblings—Simone, a philosopher, mystic, and social activist, and André, an influential mathematician—while also recalling the years Olsson spent studying math. As she delves into the lives of these two singular French thinkers, she grapples with their intellectual obsessions and rekindles one of her own. For Olsson, as a math major in college and a writer now, it’s the odd detours that lead to discovery, to moments of insight. Thus The Weil Conjectures—an elegant blend of biography and memoir and a meditation on the creative life.
Personal, revealing, and approachable, The Weil Conjectures eloquently explores math as it relates to intellectual history, and shows how sometimes the most inexplicable pursuits turn out to be the most rewarding.