The Weil Conjectures

Karen Olsson

Barnes and Noble

The Weil Conjectures is a charming meditation on geometry, sacrifice, and adolescent self-discovery, delivered in passionate, impressionistic bursts.”
—Jordan Ellenberg, New York Times-bestselling author of How Not to Be Wrong

An eloquent blend of memoir and biography exploring the Weil siblings, math, and creative inspiration

Karen Olsson’s stirring and unusual third book, The Weil Conjectures, tells the story of the brilliant Weil siblings—Simone, a philosopher, mystic, and social activist, and André, an influential mathematician—while also recalling the years Olsson spent studying math. As she delves into the lives of these two singular French thinkers, she grapples with their intellectual obsessions and rekindles one of her own. For Olsson, as a math major in college and a writer now, it’s the odd detours that lead to discovery, to moments of insight. Thus The Weil Conjectures—an elegant blend of biography and memoir and a meditation on the creative life.

Personal, revealing, and approachable, The Weil Conjectures eloquently explores math as it relates to intellectual history, and shows how sometimes the most inexplicable pursuits turn out to be the most rewarding.

Praise for The Weil Conjectures

One of Lit Hub’s 10 Books You Should Read This July

“[The Weil Conjectures] builds with the poetry and precision of a theorem.”
—Elizabeth Winkler, The Wall Street Journal

“Karen Olsson paints vivid portraits of both siblings . . . With [The Weil Conjectures], she invites the reader to sit with the Weils, to appreciate their relationship and ponder what their lives and work say to contemporary writers and mathematicians.”
—Evelyn Lamb, Scientific American

Karen Olsson is the author of the novels Waterloo and All the Houses. She has written for The New York Times Magazine, Slate, Bookforum, and Texas Monthly, among other publications, and she is also a former editor of the Texas Observer. She graduated from Harvard University with a degree in mathematics and lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.