Print: The Idiot by Elif Batuman (2017)
Literature enthusiast or not, you’ll probably agree with me that it’s hard to find a book, which truly moves you. The Idiot was one of those rare surprises this year, and I keep finding myself reminiscing about it since I finished it back in March. The plot is seemingly plain: in 1995, young Selin starts her undergrad at Harvard, where she befriends Svetlana, an eccentric Serbian, and Ivan, a Hungarian graduate student. Selin’s freshman year turns out to be relatively uneventful, followed by a bizzare summer, spent partly in Paris and finally, in nameless Hungarian countryside. If I’m not exactly selling the story, it’s because the form is playing the star role. Selin’s inner monologues are fascinating observations, navigating the ocean of language. Human interactions are pointless and absurd; words are elusive and disconnected from reality. All sentences are glued together with a subtle, irresistible sense of humor – especially when deconstructing Selin’s hopeless crush on Ivan, which is one of the truest depictions of a crush I’ve read so far, portraying all the confusion, painfulness and awkwardness of a romantic infatuation. All in all, this book is delicious and perfectly suitable for idiots of all kinds.
You’ll enjoy it if you liked: Emily Dickinson’s poetry, Asymmetry (Lisa Halliday)
Blog: The Laws of Unintended Consequences by Jeremy Sherman
Continuing the idiotic odyssey, this short article on the innocent evil and the unpredictable, incalculable aspects of our behaviour is illuminating. I promise. Read it here.
Quote: Bill Bullard
Opinion is really the lowest form of human knowledge. It requires no accountability, no understanding. The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world. It requires profound purpose larger than the self kind of understanding.