The Tenth Muse

Listen to a sample

What to expect

The first thing I remember being said of me with any consistency was that I was intelligent – and I recognized even then that it was a comment leveled at me with as much disapproval as admiration. Still, I never tried to hide or suppress my mind as some girls do, and thank god, because that would have been the beginning of the end.

From childhood, Katherine knows she is different, and that her parents are not who they seem to be. But in becoming a mathematician, she faces the most human of problems – who is she? What is the cost of love, and what is the cost of ambition?

On her quest to conquer the Riemann Hypothesis, the greatest unsolved mathematical problem of her time, she turns to a theorem with a mysterious history that holds both the lock and key to her identity, and to secrets long buried during World War II. Forced to confront some of the biggest events of the twentieth century and rethink everything she knows of herself, Katherine strives to take her place in the world of higher mathematics, reclaiming the voices of the women who came before her whose love of the language of numbers connects them across generations.

The Tenth Muse is a brilliant, involving novel asking questions about who gets to tell the story of intellectual endeavour, and those who lost everything during World War II.

Praise for The Tenth Muse
‘Arresting in scope and its treatment of time, its prose at turns crystalline and richly balletic, this story pulls puzzle from puzzle – human, historical and all too contemporary’ Helen Oyeyemi

Critics Review

  • Katherine, the narrator of this unusual novel, is an eminent American-Chinese academic fixated on the Holy Grail of mathematics…Chung is smart enough to keep the mathematics to a minimum and concentrate on the human elements in her story: a young woman’s battle for acceptance in a male-dominated world; her misadventures in love; and her torturous journey to track down her real parents in Germany

    Mail on Sunday, Best New Fiction
  • An elegantly constructed puzzle of a novel…what had seemed to be a Hidden Figures-style female-genius-in-a-male-world narrative turns into a thrilling back-to-my-roots mystery

    DailyTelegraph
  • The 10th muse, in Chung’s world, is the one who got away to pursue her own interests and develop her own mind…In young Katherine’s love of science and maths, and her yearning for more connection with her mother, there are strong overtones of Jenny Offill’s wonderful debut Last ThingsA most memorable heroine, a sympathetic, mesmerising voice who tells a deceptively simple story centred on identity and a never-ending quest for knowledge and truth

    Irish Times
  • A truly spellbinding read

    Woman & Home, December Book of the Month
  • Ambitious, insightful and distinctive, Chung’s latest novel is a beautiful exploration of the human condition . . . a spellbinding read

    Woman's Own
  • A complex family history, elegant equations, romance and a heroine who refuses to be sidelined in the male-dominated world of mathematics makes this deft novel an engrossing, emotional read…There are betrayals closer to home, too, jeopardising Katherine’s career, as love, ambition and intellectual endeavour come into conflict in this smart, satisfying book

    Sunday Express

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