Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture A Novel of Mathematical Obsession

Apostolos Doxiadis

Bloomsbury USA




224 Pages


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Petros Papachristos devotes his life to proving one of the greatest mathematical challenges of all time: Goldbach's Conjecture. In a host of countries, spanning various wars, and against a tableau of famous historical figures, Petros struggles for success—until the day he inexplicably disappears into the Greek countryside. Decades later, his ambitious nephew searches out Petros's hidden past and drives the retired recluse back into the hunt to prove Goldbach's Conjecture . . . but at the cost of the old man's sanity, and perhaps even his life.


Praise for Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture

"Petros Papachristos is of course the invention of Apostolos Doxiadis. But the story of his life is enriched with so many authentic details from history in general and from science in particular that one feels tempted to look him up in a biographic dictionary."—Scientific American

"The most dramatic book I've read all year, with ambition, betrayal and greedy self-sacrifice to rival anything you'd find in an opera."—Newsday

"A fascinating, captivating, intellectual joyride."—Miami Herald

"If you think of math as a set of boring rules . . . Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture is certain to shatter your preconceptions . . . It is a novel about life choices. At every point, it revolves around the question: which is better, to pursue possibly unattainable ideas, or to set attainable goals?"—Boston Herald

"A mathematical conjecture unsolved for two centuries, a mathematical genius uncle driven mad trying to solve it, an ambiguous relation with a mathematically-minded nephew, and acute human observation all come together in Uncle Petros to make a very funny, tender, charming, and, to my mind, irresistible novel."—Oliver Sacks

"Paints a fascinating picture of how a mathematician could fall into a mental trap by devoting his efforts to a too difficult problem."—John Nash, Nobel Laureate, 1994, subject of A Beautiful Mind

"It is brilliantly written—a mathematical detective story of great charm—and it certainly succeeds in capturing much of the spirit of mathematical research."—Sir Michael Atiyah, winner of the Fields Medal and world-renowned mathematician

"An intellectual thriller that manages to convey the high drama and excitement involved in the pursuit of an answer to a mysterious . . . mathematical theorem . . . Delightful fun, well-conceived and nicely executed."—Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Apostolos Doxiadis

  • Apostolis Doxadis received a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics from Columbia University and a Master's Degree in Applied Mathematics from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris. He has run a number of successful computer companies, as well as written and directed for both the screen and the stage. The second of his two feature films, Tetriem, won the prize of the International Center for Artistic Cinema at the 1988 Berlin International Film Festival. Mr. Doxiadis lives in Athens, Greece