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The Idiot: A Novel by Elif Batuman

The Idiot: A Novel (2017)

by Elif Batuman

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Aside from it having one of my favorite book covers of the year, the Idiot holds some of the best prose of the year so far. Batuman is hilarious, intelligent, and writes a somewhat simple story wrapped in an addicting and stylish frame. Recommended for those looking for funny and smart fiction. ( )
  JaredOrlando | Oct 3, 2017 |
A novel of youth yearning for life, for experience, for making sense of the world by creating stories. ( )
  Perednia | Aug 17, 2017 |
The Idiot is remarkable, primarily, for the singular voice of its narrator Selin, who is charming, funny, gnomic, and relatable all at the same time. The Idiot is also remarkable for how Elif Batuman sustains this voice for over 400 pages, without ever really losing any of its charm or humor. But The Idiot is disappointing for how it does not do all that much beyond this. It's a vivid snapshot of a woman in a certain place in a certain year at a certain time of her life, and a beautiful and entertaining snapshot at that. But it's somehow missing that extra oomph of insight that one expects from a great novel. Batuman is without a doubt an author to keep one's eye on; I just suspect that her best work is yet to come. ( )
1 vote williecostello | Aug 15, 2017 |
The first 150 pages of this book made me laugh at loud at a pretty steady clip. Selin, the narrator-protagonist, recounts her freshman year at Harvard with sharp, dry wit and an incredible eye for the absurdities of campus life. The novel transforms into a story of frustrated love and (also frustrated) self-discovery as Selin embarks on a summer excursion to Hungary. The last half of the novel slows down, and I suspect many readers will be disappointed that the story never comes to much of a climax, but overall I thought the book was at once charming and challenging, which is a difficult balance to strike. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jul 23, 2017 |
Initially observational and humorous in the academic setting the plot rambles in the second half. All around Selin seem to benefit from her friendship and tutoring, but she aimlessly fails to find meaning, purpose, or love in her adopted and actual homes. There is some subtle semiotics and symbolism here, but overall it is a story about how frustrating it is to be young. ( )
  albertgoldfain | Jul 7, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
The sermonic version of The Idiot might conclude with this: if power compromises love, and sex involves power, then sex always compromises love. To be intoxicated by someone’s power is to allow your love for them to be compromised. True love will not save you: the truer the love the deeper the compromise.

I don’t think Selin sees a way out of this predicament.
added by elenchus | editThe Millions, Kris Bartkus (Apr 20, 2017)
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But the characteristic feature of the ridiculous age I was going through---awkward indeed but by no means infertile---is that we do not consult our intelligence and that the most trivial attributes of other people seem to us to form an inseparable part of their personality.  In a world thronged with monsters and with gods, we know little peace of mind.  There is hardly a single action we perform in that phase which we would not give anything, in later life, to be able to annul.  Whereas what we ought to regret is that we no longer possess the spontaneity which made us perform them.  In later life we look at things in a more practical way, in full conformity with the rest of society, but adolescence is the only period in which we learn anything.
Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time, Volume II: Within a Budding Grave
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I didn't know what email was until I got to college.
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