Every now and then he looked up to ask what Evo was saying, since at his seventy-two years of age, Hugo Blanco is nearly deaf. I think that girls grow up wanting to tell their own story and get that back. Once again, Batuman is being reductive and taking nonsensical leaps of logic. Batuman herself had spent several years there writing about politics and culture. MFAs want to learn how to tell a good story — e. But there were also very long, meandering parts.

It might have been suicide. What remains to be written about? I think we were around eleven or twelve. Selin is trying to work out how to be a writer, and how to live — or as she puts it: It was the same with feminism. She has to keep going somehow.

On the other hand, The Red and the Black is a book I actually want to read. She has to keep going somehow. Also, we would go back to Turkey every summer and then I would see that there was a whole country where a lot of things were different. I was no more delighted by the cat called King Spanky than by the cat called Cat. That made me realise that these central tensions of the Russian novel — particularly for Dostoevsky, between Westernisation and authenticity, some kind of more Eastern authenticity, and the limitations of the scientistic world… Growing up as the child of scientists, I thought science could explain everything.

And why do stories have to be made up?

Elif Batuman on Fictionalizing Her Life, and Learning to Fact Check

To explain her literary strategy, Batuman went back to the Russians. Selin goes to work on linguistics, befriends a cultivated Serbian named Svetlana, and falls in love with Ivan, a Hungarian mathematician in her beginning Russian class. Upon arrival, she had been whisked away to Wales for the Hay Festival. Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.


elif batuman essay

Batuman immersed herself in the Russian language at Harvard, and went to Stanford for a PhD in comparative literature. A History of Money. A Elif Batuman — Well, for a long time I was disinclined to write about anything very political. A lot of the way the pacing happened was in the editing. Here is the crux of the problem, the single greatest obstacle to American literature today: Your email address will not be published. It was very strange.

elif batuman essay

Part of it was going to therapy, because I thought of myself as someone who was less formed by their parents and their upbringing than most people. I thought that women just have to work a little harder and be better than men, and problem solved. Batuman originally wanted to write the book as a novel, but was told nobody wanted to read fiction about a depressed graduate student.

Every last clerk, child, and goat has a name. The short story is a fundamentally unironic form, and for this reason I think it is doomed.

Elif Batuman: Get a Real Degree

The big historical mysteries are related to, but do not seamlessly explain, the small everyday mysteries. I saw the rise, or the re-rise, of xenophobia and all kinds of things that I thought were over.

But there were also very long, meandering parts. I was thinking about what to take out and what to leave in, and a big guiding principle to me was that if something was funny, if abtuman really made me laugh when I reread it, then I almost always left it in. In Russian class, she meets Ivan, a Hungarian mathematician.


Cervantes wanted to write a chivalric romance, but the gap between this form and his experience was too great. She just really feels herself to be in this bind, which is something that I think is especially intense for writers.

Fifteen or so years later, she was having difficulty with a novel about her life after The Possessedand kept being drawn to flashbacks to a more innocent time. Yeah, for me too I would say.

Elif Batuman on Fictionalizing Her Life, and Learning to Fact Check | Literary Hub

Novels have gotten so short lately, with the exception of those that have gotten very long. On her day off, she visited the Giacometti exhibition at the Tate.

The short-story form can only accommodate a very specific content: The letters will be published soon in The Keats-Shelley Journal. After 12 years writing for The New Yorkerfirst as a freelancer, then as a staff writer, Batuman finds writing a novel to be an enlightening change.

Does that inclination as a reader inform the subjects that interest you as a writer?