Archive for Τεύκρος Μιχαηλίδης

The Four Colors of Summer

Posted in Books, Fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2012 by tefcros

This is a relatively new book (2011) which has only been published in Greek by Polis Publishing. This here title is true to the original, “Τα Τέσσερα Χρώματα του Καλοκαιριού”.

This book is about three great love stories, as well as a “fringe” mathematical problem, all set on the backdrop of  a tumultuous 20th century. The story feels like a wheel, its spokes piercing Paris, Göttingen, and Athens, with its center set firmly on the island of Serifos, around which the events and the characters revolve. It is Serifos in its many forms, some little known and others known all too well: it’s the island of the first union strikes in 1916, the island condemned to a slow death after the mine closures of 1963, the island we know and love today, despite its being exploited without measure as a tourist destination.

A line of women from Serifos (grandmother, mother and daughter), each living their starcrossed love story, in the enigmatic shadow of a mathematical riddle; a riddle that, after frustrtaing some of the most notable mathematical geniuses for nearly a century, was solved in a most controversial way. Its solution shook the edifice of mathematics mightily, demanding that we reconsider what we even call a “solution”. Can we really trust results based on the data from a computer – which data we can never verify by hand in our own lifetimes? Does the term “proof” mean the same in the age of computers, as it did in the time of Euclides? Furthermore, how can such a problem affect the converging lifelines of a man and a woman, whose hearts were seemingly made to beat as one?

In my last two books (Pythagorean Crimes and Ahmes, the Moonchild, respectively) I attempted to mix mathematics with crime mystery and historical fiction (to what success, it is only for the readers to tell). This time around, it was love’s turn.


Lighter than usual, but with history always present, is the new novel by Tefcros Michaelides, The four colors of summer which takes us to Serifos during the first social struggles as well as to a curious mathematics puzzle, the “four colors problem”. Breathtaking, in a summer mood underlined by verses of popular songs which illustrate a love story that will remind you of summers of the past. An excellent escape from our morose reality. (Costas Stoforos, Dromos tis aristeras, 19/12/2011).

Tefcros Michaelides is one of the few that know how to combine mathematics and literature. In his last book three love affairs and a “marginal” mathematics problem are the building bricks of the novel’s setting. In his two previous books he had mixed mathematics with crime fiction and history novel. He now gives us the first love – mathematics fiction. . (Eleftherotipia, December 2011)

The author, himself a brilliant mathematician, manages perfectly not only to translate in everyday language some of the most difficult mathematical problems but also to use them in order to create charming stories that interest all of us. (Eleftherotipia, Spiros Manouselis, 11/12/2011).

Tefcros Michaelides has given us a strong story of love and mathematics. How strong? Note this: I took it with me on a trip to London. I started to read it during the flight and although the attractions of the British capital and my good company I was eager to return to my room and see what happened to the lovers. I finished it during the small hours. (Ioanna Souffleri, VIMA – SCIENCE, 20/11/2011).