A Universe of Sufficient Size
I have wished so many times that I had acted differently.
I wish that I had been more worthy of you…
Eventually the war will end, and then we will find each other.
Until then, remember me.
Budapest, 1938. In a city park, beneath a bleakly looming statue, five Jewish mathematicians gather to share ideas, trade proofs and whisper sedition. Expelled from the university and persecuted by the state’s laws, they live in an uneasy but not unhappy bubble of work, friendship and slim plans of escape.
Sydney, 2007. Illy has just buried her father, a violent, unpredictable man whose bitterness she never understood. And now, the day after his funeral, Illy’s mother has gifted her a curious notebook. Its faded pages are a mix of personal stories and mathematical discovery, all recounted by a young woman seemingly blind to Europe’s coming storm. A woman very different to the mother and grandmother everyone thought they knew.
Inspired by a true story, Miriam Sved’s beautifully crafted novel charts a course through both the light and dark of human relationships: a vivid recreation of Hungary before German occupation, a decades-old mystery locked in the histories of five students, and a story about the selfless power of love, even years and worlds apart.
‘Love, friendship and sacrifice explode from the pages as two brilliant young women in war torn Hungary make decisions there can be no turning back from; that will have dire consequences for one, a life and family across two continents for the other.
Miriam has woven three generations and two periods of history into a page turning, emotional rollercoaster to remind us all that families are messy, complicated and how the repercussions of decisions made decades ago can come back and haunt you.
Miriam writes with authenticity and passion, where genius and true friendship pull together then strain and part. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.’
‘Miriam Sved’s A Universe of Sufficient Size, is a beautifully imagined inter-generational portrait of friendship, love and loss, set across three continents.
In the rapidly changing political landscape of 1930s Hungary, extraordinary skills with maths offer two friends a rare opportunity for protection and escape, but in the chaos and urgency of the war, these same skills will become the very source of betrayal and entrapment.
Sved’s novel impels us to reflect deeply on the play between relationships and ambitions, whether these be casual or convenient, crucial or compromised.
A University of Sufficient Size is meticulously researched and intricately plotted, making the past heartbreakingly relevant to the present.
This book is the product of a fiercely intelligent writer, whose extraordinary skills with storytelling shine bright in this complex and compelling second novel.’
Julienne van Loon
‘A Universe of Sufficient Size is plotted with the precision of a complex Venn diagram, with overlapping identities,intersecting storylines, narrative arcs, and psychological circles that eventually resolve themselves into a poignant and breathtaking denouement.’
Mandy Sayer, Australian Book Review
© Miriam Sved