Iida Rauma: On Sex and Mathematics

A novel about mathematics, believing in fairy tales, a warming planet, and our lot as humans in this world.

Author: Iida Rauma
Finnish original: Seksistä ja matematiikasta
Publisher: Gummerus, 2015
Genre: literary fiction
Number of pages: 471 pp.
Reading material: Finnish original, English translation

Erika, a Finnish mathematician who has settled in Berlin, has escaped darkness, irrationality, dampness, and a revolting smell into her internal world and logical thinking. Then the worst happens, the world roils, and Erika must return to her homeland.

Around the same time, a young man named Tuovi who suffers agony over the state of the environment seeks love to calm his fears, while Erika’s childhood friend Annukka has made the leap from mathematics to photography. When an oil tanker spills in the Gulf of Finland, unexpected connections are formed.

On Sex and Mathematics is a dazzling novel about phantoms and humans, sleep paralysis and arrhythmia and irreparable mistakes. Rationality wrenches toward destruction, love does not conquer all, and the person one least wants to see awaits in the stairwell.

“On Sex and Mathematics is one of this autumn’s finest reads.”
– Helsingin Sanomat newspaper

“The book is a singular blend of realism, mysticism, and suspense. Rauma’s language is to be savored, and she smoothly controls the structure of the text.”
– Apu magazine

“The work is rife with mordant humor […] The world Rauma creates is rich, as are the characters who populate it.”
– Turun Sanomat newspaper

Also available:
Destruction (2022)
The Book of Disappearances (2011)

About the author:
Iida Rauma