Batuman Elif

  • Université de Harvard, 1995. Selin, une jeune Américaine d'origine turque, entame des études de lettres et de langues. Selin se sent à part. Elle ne maîtrise pas les codes, sa gaucherie lui fait honte et ses amours avec Ivan, un étudiant en mathématiques hongrois, sont rapidement déçues. Pétrie d'illusions, elle envisage sa vie au miroir de la littérature, en particulier les romans russes, dont elle raffole. Don Quichotte des temps modernes, Selin comprend peu à peu que la réalité ne ressemble pas à ce qu'en disent ses livres favoris.

    Au terme de ce magnifique roman d'apprentissage plein d'humour et d'autodérision, une jeune femme trouve sa voix dans l'écriture, unique manière raisonnable, selon l'auteur, de supporter le monde réel.

  • Chez un camarade mystérieux, dans les paroles d'une chanson des Smiths ou bien sur le tournage de King Kong : en lisant Les Possédés, vous découvrirez les grands romans russes là où vous ne les attendiez pas.
    Elif Batuman nous emporte au fil de ses reportages dans une réjouissante enquête, de la Californie à l'Ouzbékistan en passant par St Petersbourg, sur l'éternelle survivance des maîtres russes (Dostoïevski, Tolstoï, Babel, Pouchkine.) dans notre vie quotidienne. En mettant en pratique la théorie d'Oscar Wilde pour qui « la vie imite l'art », Batuman entremêle sa vie personnelle aux classiques de la littérature avec une modernité rafraichissante et jubilatoire.

  • "An addictive, sprawling epic; I wolfed it down.”
    --Miranda July, author of The First Bad Man and It Chooses You
    “Easily the funniest book I’ve read this year.”
    --GQ
    A portrait of the artist as a young woman. A novel about not just discovering but inventing oneself.
    The year is 1995, and email is new. Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard. She signs up for classes in subjects she has never heard of, befriends her charismatic and worldly Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and, almost by accident, begins corresponding with Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary. Selin may have barely spoken to Ivan, but with each email they exchange, the act of writing seems to take on new and increasingly mysterious meanings.
    At the end of the school year, Ivan goes to Budapest for the summer, and Selin heads to the Hungarian countryside, to teach English in a program run by one of Ivan's friends. On the way, she spends two weeks visiting Paris with Svetlana. Selin's summer in Europe does not resonate with anything she has previously heard about the typical experiences of American college students, or indeed of any other kinds of people. For Selin, this is a journey further inside herself: a coming to grips with the ineffable and exhilarating confusion of first love, and with the growing consciousness that she is doomed to become a writer.
    With superlative emotional and intellectual sensitivity, mordant wit, and pitch-perfect style, Batuman dramatizes the uncertainty of life on the cusp of adulthood. Her prose is a rare and inimitable combination of tenderness and wisdom; its logic as natural and inscrutable as that of memory itself. The Idiot is a heroic yet self-effacing reckoning with the terror and joy of becoming a person in a world that is as intoxicating as it is disquieting. Batuman's fiction is unguarded against both life's affronts and its beauty--and has at its command the complete range of thinking and feeling which they entail.

  • SHORTLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION 2018Selin, 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.

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