Moving at such a deliberate, languid pace and voiced by a character easily accused of insouciance, it is all too easy to overlook the book and protagonist's incisive wit and keen social perception.
Like Don Quixote translated by Joy Williams, Batuman's debut novel is a distinct reading pleasure, startling and soothing in equal measure.
— From Wesley
An engaging coming-of-age novel is alright. Nothing wrong with them, of course, but they come along so often that I can usually take or leave them. This is an engaging coming-of-age novel with the right dash of humor, and the right dash of linguistic and existential philosophy. It features an anger-inducing and sympathetic cast of characters, who inspired in me a powerful emotional reaction, because they felt exactly like the anger-inducing, sympathetic characters I knew in college, and you did, too. — From James
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book
Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction
"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."
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