Book Review – Ratner’s Star

by Don Delillo (Picador) ISBN: 9780679722922

Delillo first released this book in 1976 after undertaking a period of study in mathematics for fun. Anyone who can find mathematics fun is admirable in my view. As an enjoyable read however, this book didn’t add up for me.

Boy genius Billy is the first person to win a Nobel Prize in Mathematics, his work understood by less than a handful of people worldwide. He is recruited by a strange and at times sinister group of well-funded scientists to decode a message that earth has received from outer space near Ratner’s Star.

My experience of this novel is lodged somewhere between a Salman Rushdie novel and a George Orwell novel. That is, I could compute more meaning in the book than I could while reading Midnight’s Children, but it didn’t convey metaphorical meaning as effectively as 1984 or Animal Farm. I might simply not be smart enough to grasp the message or the maths.

Justine Cullinan

Posted on: 25th November 2016