Upcoming Event

Elif Batuman at Harvard Book Store

presenting

Either/Or:
A Novel

in conversation with BETH BLUM

Date

May
26
Thursday
May 26, 2022
7:00 PM ET

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes ELIF BATUMAN—author of The Idiot, a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize—for a discussion of her new, highly anticipated follow-up Either/Or: A Novel. She will be joined in conversation by BETH BLUM—associate professor of English at Harvard University.

A Return to In-Person Events

Harvard Book Store is excited to re-introduce in-person programming this season, beginning this March. To ensure the safety and comfort of everyone in attendance, the following Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place at all of our Harvard Book Store events until further notice:

  • Face coverings are required of all staff and attendees when inside the store. Masks must snugly cover nose and mouth.

About Either/Or

Selin is the luckiest person in her family: the only one who was born in America and got to go to Harvard. Now it’s sophomore year, 1996, and Selin knows she has to make it count. The first order of business: to figure out the meaning of everything that happened over the summer. Why did Selin’s elusive crush, Ivan, find her that job in the Hungarian countryside? What was up with all those other people in the Hungarian countryside? Why is Ivan’s weird ex-girlfriend now trying to get in touch with Selin? On the plus side, it feels like the plot of an exciting novel. On the other hand, why do so many novels have crazy abandoned women in them? How does one live a life as interesting as a novel—a life worthy of becoming a novel—without becoming a crazy abandoned woman oneself?

Guided by her literature syllabus and by her more worldly and confident peers, Selin reaches certain conclusions about the universal importance of parties, alcohol, and sex, and resolves to execute them in practice—no matter what the cost. Next on the list: international travel.

Unfolding with the propulsive logic and intensity of youth, Either/Or is a landmark novel by one of our most brilliant writers. Hilarious, revelatory, and unforgettable, its gripping narrative will confront you with searching questions that persist long after the last page.

Praise for Either/Or

“Selin, the magnetic protagonist in Batuman’s brilliant and comedic first novel, The Idiot (2017), returns . . . Month by month, Batuman’s brainy, attentive, outspoken narrator grapples with the absurd (literary pretension, academics, sex) and the sublime (literature, music, sex) . . . Through it all, valiant Selin reads and ponders the human condition, culminating in a breath-catching ending that will leave spellbound readers hoping for more from Batuman’s bright and witty adventurer of conscience.” —Booklist (starred review)

“Selin is a disarming narrator, tossing off insights that are revelatory, moving, and laugh-out-loud funny—sometimes all at once—and it’s exciting to watch her become the author of her own story. Another delightfully cerebral and bighearted novel from a distinctive voice in contemporary fiction.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“Effervescent . . . Observant, defiant, and newly on antidepressants, Selin approaches the mystery of human relations with a beginner’s naivete and sharp intelligence . . . Batuman’s light touch and humor are brought to bear on serious questions . . . As accomplished as The Idiot was, this improves upon it, and Batuman’s already sharp chops as a novelist come across as even more refined in these pages. Readers will be enraptured.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Beth Blum
Beth Blum

Beth Blum

Beth Blum is an associate professor of English at Harvard University. Her book, The Self-Help Compulsion: Searching for Advice in Modern Literature, was published in 2020.

Elif Batuman
Elif Batuman

Elif Batuman

Elif Batuman’s first novel, The Idiot, was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in the UK. She is also the author of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, which was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. She has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2010 and holds a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford University.

Photo credit: Valentyn Kuzan

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