Two of the most contrasting subjects in school are math and English – considering that one deals with calculations and the other deals with writing. While most people would not expect these subjects to find harmony, the latest visitor to Bradley’s campus explains the connection he’s made between the two.
On April 20, writer and mathematician Manil Suri visited students as a part of the English Department’s “Visiting Writers” series. Suri, a professor at the University of Maryland, shared stories from his career, read excerpts from his novels and answered questions from students.
As all writers do, Suri dreamed of being well-known and hoped to work for big name magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic and The New York Times.
“To become a great writer, you have to do it multiple times to be good enough,” Suri said.
Suri wrote to his mother in Mumbai, sometimes sending letters that were more than ten pages long to practice his writing and share his studies in America.
After visiting his family in India, Suri absorbed the one-flat apartment complex life, leading to the release of his first novel “Death of Vishnu” in 2001.
“When I was reading Suri’s novels, I just was in awe of how he beautifully crafted each and every sentence in his works. Sentence by sentence, his stories accumulate a story that left me in tears,” Associate English Professor and Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies Thomas Palakeel said.
Following the release of his second novel “The Godfather of Numbers,” Suri began writing for The New Yorker. As he started his professional writing career, lessons from his math professors from the late 70s moved Surito to release his renowned mathematical novel “The Big Bang of Numbers.”
Suri shared his philosophy regarding why mathematics should be incorporated more often into literature. He believes that just like the way most religions believe in the idea of a Big Bang, math also starts out of nothing.
“Math is a way of creating everything out of nothing,” senior political science major Nathan Price said. “The way he presented math is unique and interesting. It’s different from how other professors would do that because it is definitely more user-friendly.”
Suri shared excerpts from “The Godfather of Numbers” to describe how he configured mythology into a series of numbers. He also presented how the concept of the “Golden Ratio” can be applied to everyday life.
“Symmetry and perfection is not beauty. Nothing is meant to fit the Golden Ratio,” Suri said.
Ultimately, Suri wanted those in attendance to know that mathematics is complex and that there are many things that we do not understand, but that applies to all theories of belief.
“I am currently in a math course and have been struggling,” freshman chemistry major Doug Yoo said. “I have been considering adding on a math minor and after Suri’s presentation, I am excited to read his novel to help continue my interest in math.”
Suri continues to write articles about math as well as present his works. As the event concluded, he signed copies of his novels for students and hosted a Q&A.