The Housekeeper and the Professor, written in Japanese and translated into English by Stephen Snyder, tells the story of a once-brilliant mathematics professor and baseball fanatic, who has been robbed of all but 80 minutes of short-term memory by a traumatic car accident. He passes his time in a ramshackle cottage in his sister-in-law’s backyard, with notes to aid his memory pinned all over his clothing. There he is cared for by a housekeeper and her young son, with whom he forges a deep relationship, though he forgets them every day. Using the poetic qualities of mathematics and baseball, the book explores the trio’s unlikely friendship.
When twelve-year-old Hugo, an orphan living and repairing clocks within the walls of a Paris train station in 1931, meets a mysterious toyseller and his goddaughter, his undercover life and his biggest secret are jeopardized.
The 2011 Saratoga Reads capstone event was a talk at the Saratoga Springs Public Library by translator Stephen Snyder. Snyder discussed the process of translating The Housekeeper and the Professor and the challenges that editors and translators face in moving a book from one language and literary culture to another. He described how a book gets chosen for translation, how translators and publishers are selected, and the role of translation in increasingly globalized societies. The talk was illustrated with photos and artwork.