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MashReads Podcast: ‘The Idiot’ is one of the best books you’ll read all year

If there is one word to describe Elif Batuman’s new novel The Idiot, it’s the word “mundane.” And that just might be the novel’s greatest strength.

The book follows the year in the life of Selin, a Turkish-American freshman at Harvard. As Selin goes through her freshman year, she must navigate getting along with her roommates, an infatuation/ relationship with an older Hungarian student, and later, a trip to Europe to teach English. 

Oh, and all the while dealing with the typical college freshman woes of examining the relationship between truth, existence, and language while studying linguistics. Casual.

But what makes The Idiot shine is the way the novel meticulously documents the banal situations and observations Selin has in her day-to-day life. Whether it’s Selin thinking about math (“I wasn’t particularly interested in high school math acquisition, but nobody ever said we were put on this earth for our own entertainment”) or Selin watching a crush dig through his pockets (“An amazing sight, someone you’re infatuated with trying to fish something out of a jeans pocket”), Batuman writes of Selin’s adventures with a bluntness and dryness that’s witty, so mundane that it’s surreal, and yet, instantly relatable in a way that will make readers want to scream, “EXTREME SAME!”

And in a lot of ways, the dry narration is the point. The Idiot is a meandering, largely plotless novel that concerns itself with, yes, what happens to Selin, but also with what stories we tell, how we tell them, and to whom.

“I felt a wave of nausea to realize that I had propagated these stories just by telling Svetlana what was going on — just because I wanted to tell some other person the

Article source: http://mashable.com/2017/07/16/mashreads-podcast-the-idiot-elif-batuman/

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