By Elif Batuman
Considered one of The Economist’s 2011 Books of the 12 months THE actual yet not going tales OF LIVES DEVOTED—ABSURDLY! MELANCHOLICALLY! BEAUTIFULLY!—TO THE RUSSIAN CLASSICS
No person who learn Elif Batuman’s first article (in the magazine n+1) will ever overlook it. “Babel in California” advised the real tale of varied human destinies intersecting at Stanford college in the course of a convention concerning the enigmatic author Isaac Babel. Over the process numerous pages, Batuman controlled to misplace Babel’s final dwelling family on the San Francisco airport, discover Babel’s mystery impact at the making of King Kong, and introduce her readers to a brand new voice that used to be unpredictable, comedian, humane, ironic, captivating, poignant, and entirely, unpretentiously packed with love for literature.
Batuman’s next pieces—for The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and the London overview of Books— have made her some of the most sought-after and favourite writers of her iteration, and its top touring spouse. In The Possessed we watch her examine a potential homicide at Tolstoy’s ancestral property. We opt for her to Stanford, Switzerland, and St. Petersburg; retrace Pushkin’s wanderings within the Caucasus; research why outdated Uzbek has 100 assorted phrases for crying; and notice an eighteenth-century ice palace reconstructed at the Neva.
Love and the unconventional, the person in historical past, the existential plight of the graduate scholar: all locate their position in The Possessed. actually and metaphorically following the footsteps of her favourite authors, Batuman searches for the solutions to the large questions within the information of lived adventure, combining clean readings of the nice Russians, from Pushkin to Platonov, with the unhappy and humorous tales of the lives they proceed to influence—including her personal.