Andrew Crumey

Go Forth & Multiply

Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure


The Bodley Head 260pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

There is no Nobel Prize for mathematics, but there is the Fields Medal. Cédric Villani won it in 2010, and his curious memoir tells how. Rather than being a straightforward account of the mathematician’s life, or a step-by-step explanation of the problem he worked on, the book is a collage of emails, equations, quotations and observations, painting a dizzying picture of frankly unfathomable genius. Put it this way: I’m a PhD-level mathematician and, after reading this book, I still can’t figure out exactly what Villani did. But it was a fun ride.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter