The Genius in my Basement

Alexander Masters

An intimate portrait of an everyday genius.

Alexander Masters tripped over his first subject on a Cambridge pavement, and the result was the multi-award-winning bestseller Stuart: A Life Backwards. The second, he’s found under his floorboards.

One of the greatest mathematical prodigies of the twentieth century stomps around the basement in semi-darkness, dodging between stalagmites of bus timetables and engorged plastic bags. He eats tinned kippers stirred into packets of Bombay Mix. Simon is exploring a theoretical puzzle so complex and critical to our understanding of the universe, that it is known as the Monster. It looks like a sudoku table – except a sudoku table has nine columns of numbers.

The Monster has 808017424794512875886459904961710757005754368000000000.
But Simon’s also up to something else. What’s inside the decaying sports bag he never lets out of his clutches? Why does he hurtle out of the house in the middle of the night? And – Good God! – what is that noxious smell that creeps up the stairwell?
The Genius in my Basement is the grumpy, poignant, comical story – more intimate than either the author or his subject intended – about the frailty of brilliance, Britain’s most uncooperative egghead, and a happy man.

Reviews of The Genius in my Basement

    • From the reviews of ‘Stuart: A Life Backwards’:
    • ‘Unique and wonderful’ Daily Mail
    • ‘This is a very rare and haunting book … A great first book’ Andrew O’Hagan
    • ‘Good books like this appear about once every five years. It’s been years since I’ve been so delighted by a book and so surprised by it … When I’d finished I felt bereft, as if I’d lost an old friend’ Zadie Smith
    • ‘I feel so strongly about this strange, funny, sad book that I hardly know where to begin … My enthusiasm feels almost limitless. A page-turner’ Observer
    • ‘Funny and original, a startling book … By the end I was doubled up in tears, but throughout I was often doubled up with laughter. It is dazzling’ Vogue
    • ‘A remarkable biography. Unforgettably moving. A gripping read’ Tim Lott, Sunday Times
    • ‘With his first book, Alexander Masters … has achieved something remarkable. He has, without patronising, given a voice to the “underclass”; at the same time, without preaching, he shows us the value of even the most damaged of human lives … a powerful book, humane, instructive and entirely original’ Sunday Telegraph