‘A moving, continent-hopping coming-of-age story’ Observer
**SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2018**
Selin, a tall, highly strung Turkish-American from New Jersey turns up at Harvard and finds herself dangerously overwhelmed by the challenges and possibilities of adulthood. She studies linguistics and literature, and spends a lot of time thinking about what language – and languages – can and cannot do. Along the way, she befriends Svetlana, a cosmopolitan Serb, and obsesses over Ivan, a mathematician from Hungary.
Selin ponders profound questions about how culture and language shape who we are, how difficult it is to be a failed writer, and how baffling love is. At once clever and clueless, Batuman’s heroine shows us with perfect hilarity and soulful inquisitiveness just how messy it can be to forge a self.
‘I loved it and could have read a thousand more pages of it’ Emma Cline, author of The Girls
Elif Batuman is a writer whose byline creates a flutter of anticipation… If a dominant mode of her generation is knowing introspection, she writes with a bewildered outrospection that delights in the bathetic and the absurd… It’s a novel about being young and stupid that’s both wise and clever — and it’s a treat.
Each paragraph is a small anthology of well-made observations… Batuman has a rich sense of the details of human attachment and lust.
Beautifully written... a wry, funny coming-of-age story set at the dawn of email among a group of Harvard brainiacs too nerdy and self-involved to even think about sex, drugs and drinking.