Monday, July 22, 7:00pm Magers And Quinn Booksellers (map)
Catherine Chung presents The Tenth Muse, in conversation with Steph Opitz
In The Tenth Muse, Chung – who has a degree in mathematics from the University of Chicago and spent time at Einstein’s famed Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton – brings to life the language and passion of mathematics and shines a light on the too-often suppressed historical contributions of women throughout time.
Growing up with a Chinese mother and an American father who served in World War II, Katherine senses painful secrets behind her parents’ troubled relationship, but her mother abandons the family when Katherine is only a child, and her father refuses to discuss the past. Heartbroken and confused, Katherine finds comfort and beauty in the way mathematics brings meaning and order to chaos, but as she matures into an exceptional mathematician, she continues to struggle with the most human of problems—who is she? What is the cost of love, and what is the cost of ambition? These questions grow ever more entangled as Katherine strives to take her place in the world of higher mathematics and becomes involved with a brilliant and charismatic professor.
When she embarks on a quest to conquer the Riemann hypothesis—the greatest unsolved mathematical problem of her time—she turns to a theorem with a puzzling history that may hold both the lock and key to her identity, and to mysteries long buried during World War II. Forced to confront some of the most consequential events of the twentieth century and rethink everything she knows of herself, she finds kinship in the stories of the women who came before her, and discovers how seemingly distant and unrelated stories, lives, and ideas are inextricably linked to her own.
Aflame with the language of mathematics and told with unflinching grace and compassion, The Tenth Muse is a gorgeous, sweeping tale about legacy, identity, and the beautiful ways the mind can make us free.
Catherine Chung was a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, a Granta New Voice, and a Director's Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She has an undergraduate degree in mathematics from The University of Chicago and worked at a think tank in Santa Monica before receiving her MFA from Cornell University. She has published work in The New York Times and Granta and is a fiction editor at Guernica Magazine. She lives in New York City.
Steph Opitz is the founding director of Wordplay at The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. She serves on committees for the National Book Foundation, PEN America, Rain Taxi, Mojave School, and Portland Book Festival. She has curated literary events and festivals around the country--as the literary director of the Texas Book Festival, the fiction co-chair of the Brooklyn Book Festival, on the programs team for the PEN World Voices Festival among others. Steph was the books reviewer for Marie Claire magazine for six years, her book reviews can also be found in Garden & Gun, Departures, Kirkus, and elsewhere.