Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Idiot
by Elif Batuman
Published: March 2017

If you have the chance to read this while laying on a towel in your backyard — or whatever lets you relive your favorite adolescent summer breaks — I highly recommend it. Nothing throws me back into past versions of myself like a well-written bildungsroman with an endearingly naive but resilient protag. 
College freshman Selin is learning to navigate elite university life in the 90's. She’s overanalyzing art and film, deconstructing theories of psycholinguistics and making friends with every fun ivy league stereotype along the way.

I get why this got nominated for a Pulitzer, Batuman has a thoughtful, observant way of capturing the world that was pleasantly refreshing. So maybe there are bits that got a little slow or parts where you just wanna shake the main character (until you remember what it was like to be 19 and allow some empathy... for her and for your own past self). To keep this spoiler free, I will just say that I found the ending to be very upsetting until I had a good think about how the main character would have felt about it. And then I had a good laugh. Well played.

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