By Elif Batuman
One of The Economist's 2011 Books of the 12 months
THE actual yet not likely tales OF LIVES DEVOTED―ABSURDLY! MELANCHOLICALLY! BEAUTIFULLY!―TO THE RUSSIAN CLASSICS
No one that learn Elif Batuman's first article (in the magazine n+1) will ever disregard it. "Babel in California" instructed the real tale of varied human destinies intersecting at Stanford college in the course of a convention in regards to the enigmatic author Isaac Babel. Over the process a number of pages, Batuman controlled to misplace Babel's final residing family members 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, fascinating, 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 probably the most sought-after and renowned writers of her iteration, and its most sensible touring significant other. In The Possessed we watch her examine a potential homicide at Tolstoy's ancestral property. We pick her to Stanford, Switzerland, and St. Petersburg; retrace Pushkin's wanderings within the Caucasus; study why outdated Uzbek has 100 various phrases for crying; and spot an eighteenth-century ice palace reconstructed at the Neva.
Love and the unconventional, the person in historical past, the existential plight of the graduate pupil: all locate their position in The Possessed. actually and metaphorically following the footsteps of her favourite authors, Batuman searches for the solutions to the massive questions within the information of lived event, 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 own.