Elif Batuman

"If I could start over today, I would choose literature again. If the answers exist in the world or in the universe, I still think that's where we're going to find them."

Elif Batuman’s writing has been described as helplessly witty and concise. She’s a staff writer for The New Yorker and has published two critically acclaimed books – The Possessed and The Idiot, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2018.

Elif graduated from Harvard College and has a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford University. During graduate school she studied in Uzbekistan, and from 2010 to 2013, she was a writer-in-residence at Koç University, in Istanbul.

The Possessed is a collection of comic interconnected non-fiction essays about the pursuit of Russian literature. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the New York Times praises the book as, “hilarious, wide-ranging, erudite, and memorable, The Possessed is a sui generis feast for the mind and the fancy, ants and all.” The Idiot is a novel set in 1995 that observes the rise of internet culture and language’s inability to communicate feelings or ideas accurately. Author Mary Karl praises The Idiot, saying, “this book is a bold, unforgettable, un-put-downable read by a new master stylist. Best book I’ve read in years.”

Elif is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and a Paris Review Terry Southern Prize for Humor. She lives in Brooklyn, New York where she is hard at work writing her third book.

Elif Batuman, "The Idiot"


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