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The Idiot: A Novel

The Idiot: A Novel

A Signed First Edition Club Recommendation

"The Idiot is many things: a coming-of-age story, a satire on academia, a love story (of sorts), a multicultural commentary. What distinguishes the book is the protagonist's unique combination of innocence (even cluelessness) and irony. She sees the absurdities in the commonplace and the result is hilarious. I found myself laughing out loud even as I sympathized with Selin as she struggled through her freshman year at Harvard and subsequent summer in Europe. This is an amazingly smart and funny novel."

Jeff M.

See all my recommendations »

Author Elif Batuman
Publisher Penguin Books
Publication Date 2018-02-13
Section Fiction / New Titles - Paperback / All Staff Suggestions / Jeff M.
Type New
Format Paperback
ISBN 9780143111061

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2017 "An addictive, sprawling epic; I wolfed it down.” —Miranda July, author of The First Bad Man and It Chooses You  “Easily the funniest book I’ve read this year.” —GQ A portrait of the artist as a young woman. A novel about not just discovering but inventing oneself. The year is 1995, and email is new. Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard. She signs up for classes in subjects she has never heard of, befriends her charismatic and worldly Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and, almost by accident, begins corresponding with Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary. Selin may have barely spoken to Ivan, but with each email they exchange, the act of writing seems to take on new and increasingly mysterious meanings.    At the end of the school year, Ivan goes to Budapest for the summer, and Selin heads to the Hungarian countryside, to teach English in a program run by one of Ivan's friends. On the way, she spends two weeks visiting Paris with Svetlana. Selin's summer in Europe does not resonate with anything she has previously heard about the typical experiences of American college students, or indeed of any other kinds of people. For Selin, this is a journey further inside herself: a coming to grips with the ineffable and exhilarating confusion of first love, and with the growing consciousness that she is doomed to become a writer. With superlative emotional and intellectual sensitivity, mordant wit, and pitch-perfect style, Batuman dramatizes the uncertainty of life on the cusp of adulthood. Her prose is a rare and inimitable combination of tenderness and wisdom; its logic as natural and inscrutable as that of memory itself. The Idiot is a heroic yet self-effacing reckoning with the terror and joy of becoming a person in a world that is as intoxicating as it is disquieting. Batuman's fiction is unguarded against both life's affronts and its beauty--and has at its command the complete range of thinking and feeling which they entail. Named one the best books of the year by Refinery29 • Mashable One • Elle Magazine • The New York Times • Bookpage • Vogue • NPR • Buzzfeed •The Millions

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