Book news

Dear readers!  It took some time, but I finally outsmarted those turkeys and am back at my desk, just in time for the impending release of The Possessed, which you can preorder right now from Amazon for the low, low price of $10.12.  Those with concerns about my interns’ nutritional intake are particularly encouraged you to order from one of the links on this page: that way, thanks to the Amazon Associates program, we get 4% extra per copy.

That means for every copy you buy, we get $0.40: the cost of approximately 1.78 fl. oz. Ensure High Protein Complete Balanced Nutrition Drink!

I’m really proud that The Possessed has received kind mentions in venues ranging from O the Oprah Magazine to the Chronicle of Higher Education, as well as Bookforum, Publishers Weekly, the Library Journal, Vogue magazine, and, most recently, the Los Angeles Times.

Because I am such a delicate, retiring flower, reviews still really freak me out, even positive ones—I’m too scared to actually read them, so I just forward them right away to my parents.  However, my much-respected editor at FSG just emailed me the concluding line of the LA Times piece, and I was deeply moved to learn that, “If Susan Sontag had coupled with Buster Keaton, their prodigiously gifted love child might have written this book.”  Honestly, though, I was also slightly freaked out, and didn’t forward the link to my parents, who, it occurred to me, might conceivably resent the usurping of their vital roles in my physical and intellectual growth by Ms. Sontag and Mr. Keaton—to whom, oddly, they bear no readily apparent resemblance.  I guess that’s the kind of mystery Viktor Shklovsky had in mind when he wrote that “the legacy… from one literary generation to the next moves not from father to son but from uncle to nephew.”

Dear Bay Area readers!  I warmly invite you to the book launch for The Possessed, to be held on Wednesday February 24 at 7pm at the illustrious City Lights Bookstore.  I am told that there will be vodka martinis.  I believe the vodka martini was Tolstoy’s favorite kind of martini.


In March, I will be doing more readings in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Boston, and New York:

3/3 – Los Angeles, CA
In conversation with David Ulin

3/10 – Corte Madera, CA
Book Passage

3/11 – Menlo Park, CA
Kepler’s Books

3/15 – New York, NY
McNally Jackson
In conversation with Keith Gessen

3/17 – Boston, MA
Brookline Booksmith

4/25 – Los Angeles, CA
LA Times Festival of Books

In April–May, I’m really hoping to get to Chicago and New Orleans, two beautiful metropolitan areas which are home to some of my favorite dear readers.   Nothing definite yet, though—really it depends whether my interns can build up enough muscle mass by then.  Remember, every little bit counts!


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167 Responses to “Book news”

  1. Dave Lull Says:

    Sam Anderson on ‘The Professor and Other Writings,’ by Terry Castle and ‘The Possessed,’ by Elif Batuman — New York Magazine Book Review


  2. Ali B Says:

    Laura Miller review at Salon.com – http://beta.salon.com/books/what_to_read/index.html?story=/books/laura_miller/2010/02/14/the_possessed

  3. Dave Lull Says:

    Barnes & Noble essay on The Possessed
    by Jessica Allen


  4. james stotts Says:

    molodchina! see you in boston.

  5. Dave Lull Says:

    NY Times
    Books of The Times
    Tolstoy & Co. As Objects of Obsession
    Published: February 16, 2010


  6. Dave Lull Says:

    NY Times
    ‘The Possessed’
    Published: February 16, 2010

    Babel in California


  7. Dave Lull Says:

    ‘The Possessed,’ by Elif Batuman
    Bob Blaisdell, Special to The Chronicle
    Friday, February 19, 2010


  8. Dave Lull Says:

    The Possessed
    Book review
    Time Out New York
    by Eryn Loeb


  9. lila Says:

    dear elif,
    i spent four years in the PG.3776’s of the university of chicago, and wrote my BA thesis on fyodorov and platonov, etc. i read the brothers karamazov for the first time in a bathtub in istanbul (where i sat through the night so as not to wake any of my fellow travelers with the lights), and spent one september of my life drinking samagon and digging potatoes with old believers. since tuesday, when i acquired your book, i have been making calculations like whether i should walk down the metro escalator and miss 26 seconds of potentially reading of the possessed, or make the train. i routinely decided it was worth reading instead, because the worst that would happen when i missed the train was that i’d stand reading your book for another seven minutes, which is what i was going to do when i got home, anyways. i work at an independent bookstore in dc, and i have been putting it in everyone’s hand, and this week i might have semi-dramatically read it aloud to my coworkers, and also, sent a copy to my comp lit friend from samarkand.
    thank you, it’s wonderful! and anthemic (which you surely won’t hear in the reviews) for people such as i.

  10. Dave Lull Says:

    ‘The Possessed’ by Elif Batuman offers fresh perspective on Russian literary giants
    By Plain Dealer guest writer
    February 23, 2010, 12:00AM


  11. Dave Lull Says:

    Turkish Digest: The Possessed
    Quirky, comical essays explore the relationship between Russian literature and life.
    By Heller McAlpin / February 22, 2010


  12. Dave Lull Says:

    By Rachel Dovey
    Elif Batuman: To Russia, With Love


  13. Dave Lull Says:

    A Comedian in the Academy
    Who knew studying Russian literature could be so funny?
    By Adam Kirsch
    Slate Magazine


  14. Dave Lull Says:

    Paperback Nonfiction Bestsellers For Feb. 25 : NPR


    [. . .]

    14. The Possessed

    Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them

    By Elif Batuman

    Weeks on list: 1 • In The Possessed, Elif Batuman explores the lives of the great Russian authors, from Pushkin to Platonov, and of the people they continue to influence up through today. She retraces Pushkin’s wanderings in the Caucuses, explores why Old Uzbek has a hundred different words for crying and visits an 18th century ice palace reconstructed on the Neva River in Russia.

    Paperback, 304pp, $15.00, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2010

    [. . .]

  15. Dave Lull Says:

    Interview with Elif Batuman, Part-Time Professor of the Possessed
    by Ilana Simons


  16. Dave Lull Says:

    February 2010
    Janet Potter
    The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman


  17. Dave Lull Says:

    The Possessed: Academia hasn’t killed Elif Batuman’s sense of humor
    By Jonathan Kiefer
    Published on March 01, 2010 at 12:22pm


  18. Dave Lull Says:

    recent booklists
    Mar 3 2010
    Elif Batuman: Dangerous Friends


  19. Dave Lull Says:

    GO EAST, YOUNG WOMAN | More Intelligent Life


  20. Dave Lull Says:

    Reading to Live – The Brooklyn Rail
    by Jenny Hendrix


  21. Dave Lull Says:

    Largehearted Boy: Book Notes – Elif Batuman (”The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them”)

    “In her own words, here is Elif Batuman’s Book Notes music playlist for her book”


  22. Dave Lull Says:

    Book review: ‘The Possessed’ by Elif Batuman | Dallas Morning News
    Sunday, March 7, 2010


  23. Dave Lull Says:

    Adventures in Russian Literature: ‘The Possessed’ by Elif Batuman – Wall Street Journal


  24. Elif Says:

    Ha, the WSJ piece includes an unattributed quote from super guestblogger Peli Grietzer! The unattributed quote is: “You killed Tolstoy.”

  25. Dave Lull Says:

    Off-page with…
    Elif Batuman
    The author sheds light on her love of Russian lit.
    By Parul Sehgal


  26. Dave Lull Says:

    Review: The Possessed by Elif Batuman
    March 11, 2010
    Publishing Perspectives
    By Edward Nawotka


  27. Dave Lull Says:

    March 11, 2010 By MARION WINIK. Special to Newsday

    THE POSSESSED: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, by Elif Batuman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 296 pp., $15.


  28. Dave Lull Says:

    March 11, 2010 By MARION WINIK. Special to Newsday

    THE POSSESSED: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, by Elif Batuman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 296 pp., $15.

    Alternative link:


  29. Dave Lull Says:

    The Book Haven » “Don’t compare yourself to Tolstoy, young lady!”

    “Elif Batuman gave her reading at Kepler’s Thursday night, and spilled all about the angry letter-writers who attack her.”


  30. Dave Lull Says:

    The Leonard Lopate Show
    Monday, March 15, 2010
    Airs weekdays at 12PM on 93.9 FM and AM 820

    “Treasures and the Treasury

    “We’ll get two takes on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner—from The New Yorker’s John Cassidy and The Atlantic’s Joshua Green. Then, Elif Batuman talks about the great Russian novelists…and the people who read them. And Paddy Moloney, leader of The Chieftains, the most popular traditional Irish music group in the world, discusses their latest album. Plus, geopolitics expert Charles Emmerson looks ahead to what the future might hold for the Arctic.”


  31. Dave Lull Says:

    April 2010
    New Books
    By Benjamin Moser


  32. Dave Lull Says:

    The Bookseller
    Batuman signed by Granta
    15.03.10 | Catherine Neilan


  33. Dave Lull Says:

    Dostoyevsky and Me
    Published: March 18, 2010

    “Hilarious, wide-ranging, erudite and memorable, ‘The Possessed’ is a sui generis feast for the mind and the fancy, ants and all.”


  34. Dave Lull Says:

    March 19, 2010, 1:37 pm
    Book Review Podcast: Jill Abramson and Elif Batuman


  35. Dave Lull Says:

    * Paste
    * Books
    * Reviews
    Published at 3:00 PM on March 22, 2010
    By Burke Nixon

    Elif Batuman:
    The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them
    [Farrar, Strauss and Giroux]


  36. Cheryl Says:

    So, Elif, lured in by the NYT review today (how did I miss the first one?) I am going down to B&N this evening to see if they have your book. There are already 3 holds on each copy at the library, and I can’t wait.

    The h eadline sucked me in right away – a generation ahead of you, I, too, fell for Russian language and literature (the exact title of my undergrad degree), tho’ I’m more the language/linguistics end of the passion. Oblomov? (I read your earlier posts) Shudder. I couldn’t cope with Oblomov, too much like my own struggle with depression, which makes me want to sleep when in the throes of it. But AK? W&P? The Possessed? er, the Devils?
    Yes, yes, yes.
    молодеец, дорогая!
    If you’d put San Antonio on your book tour, I’d take you out to our “Russian Bar,” or to the Twig, our independent bookstore, or both. Or whatever. Can’t wait to read the book.

  37. Cheryl Says:

    er, correction, молодец! (typo, so embarassing)

  38. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman: ‘Orhan Pamuk made novel writing an acceptable profession in Turkey’

    “In an interview with Today’s Zaman, Batuman speaks about her new book and shares her musings on Turkish literature.”

    23 March 2010, Tuesday


  39. Dave Lull Says:

    3/23/10 Monitor Books podcast, including interview with Elif Batuman, author of “The Possessed”


  40. Dave Lull Says:

    Review of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman, originally published in BookBrowse.com, March 2010
    by Julie Wan


    PDF: http://www.juliewan.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Possessed.pdf


  41. Dave Lull Says:

    ‘The Possessed’” A fun glimpse into Russian literature
    Elif Batuman explores the minds behind great Russian novels in this witty, intelligent and fun book.
    By ANDREA HOAG, Special to the Star Tribune
    Last update: April 6, 2010 – 2:01 PM


  42. Dave Lull Says:

    Alexandra Juhasz
    Media Maker/Prof/Activist
    Posted: April 9, 2010 08:22 PM
    The Possessed: Academics Going to the Trades
    Huffington Post


  43. Dave Lull Says:

    Moments of truth

    * Judith Armstrong
    * From: The Australian
    * April 24, 2010 12:00AM


  44. Dave Lull Says:

    The Possessed by Elif Batuman
    By Michael Buening 26 April 2010
    Containing Multitudes


  45. Dave Lull Says:

    Utah News, Sports, Events – Daily Herald Newspaper / Legislature
    Book Buzz: ‘The Possessed’ and ‘The Elements’
    Laura Wadley – Correspondent | Posted: Sunday, April 25, 2010 12:04 am


  46. Dave Lull Says:

    Provoking, presenting, plays, programs and the possessed
    April 27, 2010 – 10:49 am, by Angela Meyer

    [. . .]

    If you’re anything like me, you will love a book being released in Australia today, The Possessed, by Elif Batuman (Text). It’s a passionate, personalised journey through Russian literature, its authors, and the people who read and write about them. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year – warm, smart, sweet, poignant, even slightly eccentric. Quite captivating, especially if you’re already passionate about literature. I’ll be interviewing the author on the blog soon, too!


  47. Dave Lull Says:

    Zach Dundas
    Renegade Sportsman
    Apr. 21 2010

    Elif Batuman’s ‘The Possessed’: Or, When Pushkin Comes to (From Russia With) Love!


  48. Dave Lull Says:

    Megan Heffernan
    April 30, 2010…4:08 pm
    Adventures in Academic Land


  49. Dave Lull Says:

    The Possessed Reading Group Gold

    “Whether you read The Possessed with your book club, with your thesis adviser, or in solitude, this guide is designed to enhance the journey.”

    media.us.macmillan.com/rggguides/9780374532185RGG.pdf [N.B.: .pdf]

  50. Dave Lull Says:

    Book Review: The Possessed by Elif Batuman

    11 May 2010 By Caitlin


  51. Dave Lull Says:

    The Rumpus
    From Russia with Love
    Thomas Larson · May 13th, 2010


  52. Dave Lull Says:

    Colin Miner
    Gutenberg Revisited
    Possessed by Elif Batuman


  53. Dave Lull Says:

    SF Weekly
    People & Places
    Best C-List Writer – 2010
    Elif Batuman


  54. Dave Lull Says:

    Powell’s Books – Review-a-Day – The Possessed


  55. Dave Lull Says:

    Amelia Atlas
    On Elif Batuman’s The Possessed
    Posted on | May 26, 2010


  56. Dave Lull Says:

    Issue #23.22 :: 06/02/2010 – 06/08/2010
    Obsessives Abroad
    The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them


  57. Dave Lull Says:

    Sunday, June 13, 2010
    Those Wacky Russian Literature Scholars (And More)
    Reviewed by Nancy Klingener


  58. Dave Lull Says:

    June 16, 2010
    ARTicles, a project of
    the National Arts Journalism Program

    An Original
    Robert Christgau


  59. Dave Lull Says:

    Summer Books That Make The Critics’ Cut

    Also recommended: The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman. “A hilarious collection” of essays and travel stories about people who obsess about Russian novels. [Laura] Miller says even if you can’t get through a Russian novel, you’ll find something to laugh about in this book.


  60. Dave Lull Says:

    Excerpt: ‘The Possessed’
    by Elif Batuman


  61. Dave Lull Says:

    Book review
    ‘The Possessed’: Open to anything, as long as it’s Russian

    Elif Batuman’s “The Possessed” is a highly original memoir of one woman’s obsession with Russian life and literature. Batuman discusses her book Monday June 21 at Seattle’s University Book Store.

    By by Valerie Ryan

    Special to The Seattle Times


  62. Dave Lull Says:

    Indian Express
    The Big Love
    Aishwarya Subramanian
    Posted: Sat Jun 26 2010, 22:51 hrs


  63. Dave Lull Says:

    The Possessor



  64. Dave Lull Says:

    The Moscow News
    The Undercover Critic
    Russ Lit remix
    by Mark H. Teeter at 19/07/2010 19:47


  65. Dave Lull Says:

    The Book Haven » Life in exotic Palo Alto
    Cynthia Haven

    “Palo Alto is often portrayed as a boring and staid address, the southernmost fringes where hip San Francisco fades into the dull heart of Silicon Valley. The most recent Times Literary Supplement to arrive in my mailbox makes it seem positively exotic.

    “Andrew Kahn reviews Elif Batuman’s The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them.”

    continues here:


  66. Dave Lull Says:

    “If you’re going to read just one book about conference planning, Isaac Bable…”
    August 8, 2010, 10:12 am
    Posted by Margaret O’Brien Steinfels


  67. Dave Lull Says:

    M/C Reviews
    Uzbek watermelons and Tolstoy – The Possessed by Elif Batuman
    Reviewed by Julie Kearney


  68. Dave Lull Says:

    The Millions
    Adventures in Reviewing Elif Batuman’s The Possessed
    By Ujala Sehgal posted at 6:23 am on August 31, 2010


  69. Dave Lull Says:

    Chicago Tribune
    Printer’s Row
    Editor’s Choice: ‘The Possessed
    — Elizabeth Taylor, literary editor


  70. Dave Lull Says:

    Adventures with Russian Lit
    By Vickie Aldous
    Ashland Daily Tidings
    Posted: 2:00 AM September 17, 2010


  71. Dave Lull Says:

    Benjamin Jacob Ballarde
    Book Review: Elif Batuman’s “The Possessed”


  72. Dave Lull Says:

    The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books & People Who Read Them
    by Lee B Croft
    Thirty-five year Prof. of Russian at Arizona State University.


  73. Dave Lull Says:

    “[By] Charlotte Ashley [who] is a bookseller, book collector, book historian and Alexandre Dumas fanatic.”

    “The best book I’ve read in a long time is Elif Batuman’s The Possessed. No, maybe not the best. Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum was amazing. So was Arthur Koestler’s The Gladiators. But I haven’t been as engaged by any book this year the way The Possessed engaged me.”

    “The Possessed was side-splittingly hilarious, insightful and inspiring. These were good stories. The complex connections she can draw between her life, the lives of her beloved Russian masters, and the universal experience of life did justice to her ambitions. I’d read anything Batuman writes now, right down to a laundry list. She has authority, experience, insight and style. What more can a novelist boast?”

    “Batuman makes me crave Tolstoy . . . .”


  74. Dave Lull Says:

    Granta Books


  75. Dave Lull Says:

    New York Times
    Holiday Gift Guide
    Dwight Garner’s Top 10 Books of 2010
    Published: November 23, 2010

    [. . .]

    THE POSSESSED: ADVENTURES WITH RUSSIAN BOOKS AND THE PEOPLE WHO READ THEM by Elif Batuman. Ms. Batuman’s funny and melancholy first book is ostensibly about her favorite Russian authors but is actually about a million other things: grad school, literary theory, translation, biography, love affairs and how to choose a nice watermelon in Uzbekistan. It asks this plaintive question: How do we bring our lives closer to our favorite books? (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $15)

    [. . .]


  76. Dave Lull Says:

    New York Times
    Holiday Gift Guide
    100 Notable Books
    Published: November 24, 2010
    (Page 3 of 3)

    [. . .]

    THE POSSESSED: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them. By Elif Batuman. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, paper, $15.) An entertaining memoir-cum-travelogue of a graduate student’s improbable education in Russian language and literature.

    [. . .]


  77. Dave Lull Says:

    Christian Science Monitor
    Best books of 2010: nonfiction


  78. Dave Lull Says:

    2010’s Best Books | WBUR and NPR – On Point with Tom Ashbrook

    [. . .]

    Panel favorites:


    [. . .]

    “The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them” by Elif Batuman

    [. . .]


  79. Dave Lull Says:

    Better Than Freedom
    Slate writers and editors share their favorite books of the year.
    Posted Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010, at 6:53 AM ET

    [. . .]


    [. . .]

    The Possessed by Elif Batuman
    Reading is strange, when you think about it. And writing about reading, especially about the delirium of obsessed readers, the madness and melancholy of book lovers and scholars, can be even stranger. Few writers can capture these Chekhovian love affairs with the deadpan humor, charm, affection—and pitch-perfect voice—that Elif Batuman brings to The Possessed.

    If you love reading you will love this book, which ranges from Batuman’s half-serious (I think) effort to prove to Tolstoy scholars that Tolstoy was murdered, to a summer trip to Samarkand which results in a hilariously Borgesian attempt to explain the impossibly convoluted evolution of the Old Uzbek language. “What did you know about Uzbekistan once you learned that Old Uzbek had a hundred different words for crying?” she asks herself. “I wasn’t sure, but it didn’t seem to bode well for my summer vacation.”
    —Ron Rosenbaum, “Spectator” columnist

    [. . .]


  80. Dave Lull Says:

    The Millions
    A Year in Reading: Keith Gessen

    [. . .]

    Other great books I happened to read that came out in 2010 were Elif Batuman’s The Possessed; Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask; and Zachary Mason’s The Lost Books of the Odyssey. I recommend all three without reservation; they are instant classics.

    [. . .]


  81. Dave Lull Says:

    The Rejectionist’s Favorite Books of 2010
    Thursday, December 16, 2010

    [. . .]


    [. . .]

    The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People who Read Them, by Elif Batuman. The kind of book you want to read out loud to people on the train. If you don’t pee your pants laughing, it’s because you’re dead. Not exactly a review, but we wrote about it here.[*]

    [. . .]


    *Elif Batuman, Please Be Our Bestie


  82. Dave Lull Says:

    The New Yorker
    The Book Bench
    December 17, 2010
    The Year in Reading: Rebecca Mead

    One of the new books I had the most fun reading this year was “The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them,” by Elif Batuman. This smart, winning book charts the author’s encounters with Russian literature from Stanford to Samarkand, by way of St. Petersburg and Ankara. Inevitably, perhaps, a love affair is conducted (with her college boyfriend, Eric: doomed), interesting encounters with food occur (she is given an Uzbek lesson in watermelon selection), and a certain measure of insight is achieved (“Although I am reluctant to say that what ended in Samarkand was my youth, nonetheless, this copy of Past Days brought home to me, with a kind of material immediateness, the truth of human mortality”). It’s like “Eat Pray Love” for the Ph.D. set.

    [. . .]


  83. Dave Lull Says:

    Outlook India
    Books / Favourites Magazine | Dec 27, 2010
    Web Extra
    One has difficulty choosing between books that are interesting but add nothing to what is already general knowledge, and books that make you think anew…
    Tabish Khair

    [. . .]

    Talking of novels and their writers, Elif Batuman’s The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books & the People who Read Them is a rollicking read, and not just for fans of Russian literature like me.

    [. . .]


  84. Dave Lull Says:

    The Millions
    A Year in Reading: Emily Colette Wilkinson

    [. . .]

    And in the past year, downhearted and listless again, most books have left me cold. But a few pulled me out of myself.

    Among those: Elif Batuman’s The Possessed, Terry Castle’s The Professor, Justin Evans‘ A Good and Happy Child, Philip Hoare’s The Whale. These are books to counter the listlessness: tales of possession and obsession—romantic, intellectual, cetological, demonic. Elif and Terry’s books are the first of what I hope (but doubt) will be a new era in literary scholarship. Batuman and Castle take the subjects of their essays personally (Isaac Babel, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Doestoevsky, Art Pepper, Susan Sontag) and the result of this entwining of personal and literary history is stunning. The insight that Batuman and Castle share is that the personal, the autobiographical, does not diminish intellectual arguments and aesthetic observations—it gives them more depth and resonance. In other words, ethos and logos can only get you so far. Pathos (only connect!) is the ultimate rhetorical tool. These books are also killingly funny and even frightening: Unbeknownst to many of themselves, artists and scholars are one of humanity’s most ridiculous and sinister subspecies and The Professor and The Possessed sketch these oddfellows (self portraits included) in all of their glory, absurdity, and monstrosity. Beautiful minds and black hearts abounding.

    [. . .]


  85. Dave Lull Says:

    The Millions
    A Year In Reading: Jenny Davidson

    [. . .]

    3. The book I read this year that I most wish I had written myself: Elif Batuman’s The Possessed.

    [. . .]


  86. Dave Lull Says:

    Hits, Misses and Sleepers of 2010
    Year in books: Hits, misses and sleepers
    The Associated Press
    By HILLEL ITALIE AP National Writer
    December 20, 2010 (AP)

    [. . .]

    —”Possessed,” by Elif Batuman, a scholar’s comic journey through classic Russian literature, complete with references to murder, McDonald’s and “King Kong.” ”Possessed” is now in its sixth printing, with sales of at least 15,000, according to Nielsen. Through much the first half of December, it was sold out on Amazon.com. “It’s a total hoot that has been a surprise hit with our customers all year long,” said Amazon senior editor Tom Nissley. “Elif Batuman makes the students of Russian literature into characters as bizarre and compelling as the ones in the novels they study.”

    [. . .]


  87. Dave Lull Says:

    Virginia Quarterly Review > Issues > Spring 2010 > pp.215-222 > Book Reviews
    Book Notes

    [. . .]

    [page 217]


    [. . .]

    The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, by Elif Batuman. FSG, $15 paper
    Part adventure chronicle, part exegesis, part literary memoir, Batuman’s collection of essays is, above all, a love story. The book details paths she has taken to learn more about the objects of her devotion: the great works of Russian literature. First as an aspiring novelist, then as a doctoral student of literature and freelance writer for publications such as the New Yorker and n+1, she travels to far-flung locales—Uzbekistan, St. Petersburg, and Tolstoy’s estate. She pursues the dead writers’ footsteps and descendants, investigates a possible murder, learns Uzbek in Samarkand, tries and fails to get along with Isaac Babel’s wife and daughter, and visits a massive ice palace replicating one built in 1740 for the wedding of two royal jesters. Perhaps her most moving essay, however, “The Possessed,” involves no more than a group of Stanford literature graduate students in Palo Alto. They circle around a fellow student, Matej, whose preternatural charm inspires Batuman to compare him to the dangerously compelling central character of Dostoevky’s Demons. As the coterie forms and reforms around Matej, they learn from their professor René Girard his theory of mimetic desire, which posits that love is a form of egotism. Even as Batuman falls for Matej’s charm, she fights Girard’s teachings. She believes differently: that love leads to generosity, and the love of literature to greater understanding. In her comic, poignant, beguiling book, Batuman succeeds marvelously in illuminating her version of love.
    —Reese Kwon

    [. . .]


  88. Dave Lull Says:

    Russian Life Jul/Aug2010, Vol. 53 Issue 4, p62-63
    Under Review

    The Possessed

    Recently, a blood relative with no past history of Russophilia took a Russian literature course in college. He was utterly enthralled and is now considering a year off to work in Mother Russia. Such is the power of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy.

    This uniquely compelling force of Russian literature is the central theme of Batuman’s book, subtitled “Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them.” Yet the “people” here are mainly Batuman herself, and The Possessed is largely a memoir of her intellectual explorations of the Russian literary landscape.

    That does not make the book any less interesting. On the contrary, Batuman’s first person narrative enlivens her exploration. Her self-deprecation and (at times astonishingly frank) openness about her own personal life make this a fascinating read. There is a remarkable breadth and combination of unexpected elements, from a hilarious conference on Isaac Babel, to an episode of CSI Tula, to her own bizarre attempt to transfuse Russian culture and literature by way of extended stays in Uzbekistan.

    In short, Batuman’s tale of personal discovery is as diverting and multi-threaded as a nineteenth century novel. And it’s a great summer read that will help you rediscover your own initial fascination with all things Russian.

    — Paul E. Richardson


  89. Dave Lull Says:

    Los Angeles Times
    December 19, 2010
    David Ulin’s favorite books of 2010

    [. . .]

    “The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them” by Elif Batuman (Farrar, Straus & Giroux: 304 pp., $15 paper). Part memoir of the academic life, part engaging inquiry into the pleasures of Russian literature, Batuman’s debut is a bravura performance, a collection of essays about books and reading unlike any I’ve encountered before.

    [. . .]


  90. Dave Lull Says:

    The New Yorker & Me: Interesting Emendations: Elif Batuman’s “The Ice Renaissance”


  91. Dave Lull Says:

    Jewcy’s Top 10 Non-Fiction Books Of 2010
    By admin / December 28, 2010

    [. . .]

    3. The Possessed by Elif Batuman

    If you ever thought you wanted to study Russian writers like Isaac Babel or Tolstoy for a living, read this amazing book first.

    [. . .]


  92. Dave Lull Says:

    5 best non-fiction books of the year – The Week

    [. . .]

    2. The Possessed
    by Elif Batuman
    (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $15)
    “It’s not often that one laughs out loud while reading a book of literary criticism,” said Heller McAlpin in The Christian Science Monitor. But you will while reading Elif Batuman’s. In “seven delightfully quirky essays that combine travelogue and memoir with criticism,” the young Stanford Ph.D. takes us on “an unconventional odyssey through the world of Russian literature,” a place she obsessively turned to, she writes, in search of answers to “the riddle of human behavior and the nature of love.” The Possessed is an “odd and oddly profound little book,” said Dwight Garner in The New York Times. Ostensibly about Russia’s legendary writers, it’s actually about “a million other things: grad school, literary theory, love affairs, even how to choose a nice watermelon in Uzbekistan.” Fundamentally, it’s a wry, whimsical, and thoroughly enjoyable examination of the ways we relate to the stories that move us.[. . .]


  93. Dave Lull Says:

    Flavorwire » Assigned Reading: The Ultimate Hipster Reading List
    12:00 pm Wednesday Dec 29, 2010

    Keith Gessen, author of All the Sad Young Literary Men and founding editor of n+1.

    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
    The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq
    The Places In Between by Rory Stewart
    Every Man in This Village Is a Liar by Megan Stack
    Forever War by Dexter Filkins
    Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier
    Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
    The Possessed by Elif Batuman
    The Ask by Sam Lipsyte
    The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason
    Losing My Cool by Thomas Chatterton Williams
    And the Heart Says Whatever by Emily Gould


  94. Dave Lull Says:

    Book Buzz: What were critics’ favorites titles this year? – USATODAY.com
    By Jocelyn McClurg and Carol Memmott, USA TODAY

    Best of the best: Which books published this year were voted the best by critics? PublishersMarketplace.com, a website for publishing professionals, has compiled a “Best of the Best of 2010″ list, with the top 10 titles in fiction and non-fiction. The website aggregated selections from 30 lists, including major retailers, top publications and individual critics. USA TODAY, The New York Times, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Oprah Magazine, Time, Slate and Entertainment Weekly were among those surveyed. The titles are listed in descending order of popularity:

    [. . .]


    [. . .]

    7. (tie) Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand; The Possessed by Elif Batuman; Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell

    [. . .]


  95. Dave Lull Says:

    Scott Martell, the reviewer of The Possessed for the Cleveland Plain Dealer,* chooses a couple of his favorite books from the past year:

    “The other book that stood out for me was Elif Batuman’s highly enjoyable The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, a look at just what the title says. But like all great essay collections, the power here lies in the voice.”


    * http://www.cleveland.com/books/index.ssf/2010/02/the_possessed_by_elif_batuman.html

  96. Dave Lull Says:

    Jenny Davidson again; this time from her blog Light Reading:
    Friday, December 31, 2010
    Year’s end

    [. . .]

    Elif Batuman’s The Possessed was quite magical; it even reminded me of my favorite novel of all time, Rebecca West’s The Fountain Overflows!

    [. . .]


  97. Dave Lull Says:

    Reading In The New Year – The Rumpus.net

    [. . .]we asked our favorite writers an easy one: What book will you read on New Year’s Day? Here are their answers—it’s the Rumpus’s third annual Reading in the New Year:

    [. . .]


    [. . .]


  98. Dave Lull Says:

    The hottest reads of 2011
    Erica Wagner

    * The Times
    * Published: 01 January 2011
    * Books

    “Then there is Elif Batuman’s The Possessed (Granta, April), which conjures her passion for Russian literature.”

    [Behind a pay wall.]


  99. Dave Lull Says:

    Publishers Lunch Deluxe: The Final List: Naming the Best of the Best of 2010
    By Publishers Lunch
    Jan 3, 2011 … Publishers Lunch Deluxe … The Best of the Best of 2010: | Posted on January 3, 2011 at 8:35 AM …
    The Possessed, Elif Batuman (8). Editor: Lorin Stein at Farrar, Straus. Agent: Elyse Cheney at Elyse Cheney Agency …

    [Behind a pay wall.]


  100. Dave Lull Says:

    JANUARY 7, 2011: BOOKS
    The Year in Books – AustinChronicle.com
    BY KIMBERLEY JONES [. . . et al.]

    [. . .]

    Other books I loved this year traveled farther afield [. . . .] Elif Batuman’s The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a peppery, one-woman trumpeting of literature, learning, and language (too neglected, the lot) [. . . .] – Kimberley Jones

    [. . .]


  101. Dave Lull Says:

    Books to look out for in the next six months | Books | The Guardian
    Saturday 8 January 2011

    [. . .]


    [. . .]


    Elif Batuman’s The Possessed (Granta) is a deeply clever and very funny collection of essays: half memoir, half love-letter to the Russian literary greats. The book has been feted in America: Slate called it a “cross between Borges and Borat” while the New York Times said the essays “unfold comically and intellectually as if Ms Batuman were channelling Janet Malcolm by way of Woody Allen”. Expect similar raves here.
    Paul Laity

    [. . .]


  102. Dave Lull Says:

    “You’ve gotta read this”
    Entertainment Weekly
    page 74

    Stacy Schiff’s contribution includes:

    “1 The Possessed by Elif Batuman In the category of books you write to get out of doing your homework, this hilarious collection of discursive essays on and around Russian literature– and the nonfiction characters who inhabit the territory– ranks among my favorites. Elif Batuman has a keen ear for language, an eye for the absurd, and a gift for spinning misery, dissonance, and pretty much anything you can name into gold.”

  103. Dave Lull Says:

    BellemeadeBooks – Writing about reading
    Tuesday, January 18, 2011
    “The Possessed,” Elif Batuman: sharing the excitement of discovery
    Posted by M Bromberg at 1:14 PM


  104. Dave Lull Says:

    The Associated Press: Franzen, Patti Smith nominees for critics awards

    [. . .]

    Finalists for criticism were Terry Castle’s “The Professor and Other Writings”; Ander Monson’s “Vanishing Point”; Elif Batuman’s “The Possessed”; Susan Linfield’s “The Cruel Radiance”; and Clare Cavanagh’s “Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics.”

    [. . .]


  105. Dave Lull Says:

    Flavorwire » 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalists Announced

    [. . .]

    Our pick: Elif Batuman. You could tell just from the titles we were going to pick this one, couldn’t you? Though we admit to not having read all the works on this list, we think Batuman’s clever writing is a shining example of the direction literary criticism is headed. Plus, we really dig Tolstoy.

    [. . .]


  106. Dave Lull Says:

    The Book Bench: Explore the National Book Critics Circle Nominees in The New Yorker

    [. . .]

    Elif Batuman’s week of blogging on The Book Bench about “The Possessed,” and her piece “The Ice Resistance,” which appeared in an altered version in the book (subscription required).

    [. . .]


  107. Dave Lull Says:

    London Review of Books
    · Christopher Tayler


  108. Dave Lull Says:

    By the way, the heading for Mr Tayler’s LRB review on this page:


    is “The Fabulous Elif Batuman.”

  109. Dave Lull Says:

    Book Group Buzz – Discussion of Book Clubs, Reading Lists, and Literary News – Booklist Online » Best of 2010 Megalist: Top 11 Narrative Nonfiction

    5. The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, by Elif Batuman (16 votes to date)

    Graced with a wonderful graphic art cover, Batuman’s book blends travelogue, memoir, and tales of academia with literary scholarship. Compiled from a series of popular magazine articles, The Possessed has humor, pathos, and plenty of surprises.


  110. Dave Lull Says:

    Book of the Month – Student Support – University at Buffalo Libraries
    Posted: February 18th, 2011 by Karen Walton Morse


  111. Dave Lull Says:

    31 Books in 31 Days: Craig Morgan Teicher on Elif Batuman’s “The Possessed”
    by Craig Morgan Teicher | Mar-06-2011


  112. Dave Lull Says:

    The Possessed | What’s New | Granta Books


  113. Dave Lull Says:

    The Irish Times – Saturday, April 2, 2011
    From Russia with love

    Elif Batuman: Like all good raconteurs, the Turkish New Yorker, who has a deadpan style, knows how to spin a tale. Photograph: Muhsin Akgün

    MEMOIR: BRIDGET HOURICAN reviews The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them By Elif Batuman Granta, 290pp. £16.99


  114. Dave Lull Says:

    Literary Review – Rachel Polonsky on The Possessed by Elif Batuman


  115. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman – to Russia with love
    Galway Advertiser, April 07, 2011.

    By Charlie Mcbride


  116. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman’s The Possessed is too funny
    Richard Godwin Richard Godwin
    7 Apr 2011
    This is London


  117. Dave Lull Says:

    The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman – review
    Elif Batuman’s comical treatise on reading Russian literature introduces an exciting, if not entirely original, new talent
    Francis Spufford
    The Observer, Sunday 10 April 2011


  118. Dave Lull Says:

    The Telegraph
    Wednesday 13 April 2011
    The Possessed by Elif Batuman: review
    A dizzyingly clever mix of Russian literary criticism and personal experience
    By Jane Shilling 2:56PM BST 13 Apr 2011


  119. Dave Lull Says:

    The Independent
    The Possessed, By Elif Batuman
    Reviewed by Carol Rumens
    Friday, 15 April 2011


  120. Dave Lull Says:

    ‘Her first book is a wonderful discovery’ – The Possessed by Elif Batuman
    Davor Jukic


  121. Dave Lull Says:

    The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, By Elif Batuman
    Uzbeks have one hundred words for ‘cry’
    Reviewed by Suzi Feay
    Sunday, 17 April 2011


  122. Dave Lull Says:

    The Herald Scotland
    A love affair with Russian literature that outdoes Dr Zhivago
    Jackie McGlone
    18 Apr 2011


  123. Dave Lull Says:

    The Economist
    Russian literature
    Patron saints of literary gloom
    Books, from Russia with love
    Apr 20th 2011 | from the print edition | Books and Arts


  124. Dave Lull Says:

    The National
    The Possessed: A defense of academia as a creative force
    Luke Kennard
    Last Updated: Apr 22, 2011


  125. Dave Lull Says:

    Full Stop
    The Possessed – Elif Batuman
    Amanda Shubert | 22 April 2011


  126. Dave Lull Says:

    FT.com / Books / Non-Fiction
    The Possessed
    Review by John Thornhill
    Published: April 22 2011 22:01 | Last updated: April 22 2011 22:01


  127. Dave Lull Says:

    Arts & Letters Daily
    Friday, April 29, 2011

    New Books
    How did a first-generation Turkish grad student end up driving around San Francisco with Isaac Babel’s 90-year-old widow riding shotgun?… more»


  128. Dave Lull Says:

    The Possessed by Elif Batuman – review | Books |
    If you liked Eat, Pray, Love, you’ll hate this
    * Ian Sansom
    * The Guardian, Saturday 30 April 2011


  129. Dave Lull Says:

    The Spectator
    The Russian connection
    7 May 2011
    Charlotte Hobson


  130. Dave Lull Says:

    Review: The Possessed by Elif Batuman – plus, win a copy « The Dabbler
    By Brit Wednesday May 25, 2011


  131. Dave Lull Says:

    The Book Reporter – Elif Batuman: A Serious Writer

    [. . .]

    Once I had overcome the terrible discovery that this wasn’t a book of cartoons by Roz Chast, I started to enjoy myself.

    [. . .]


  132. Dave Lull Says:

    The Dabbler Book Club
    Elif Batuman competition winners


  133. Dave Lull Says:

    David’s Secret Blog: Quibbles
    17 June 2011

    I’ve now read The Possessed by Elif Batuman, in part because Brit recommended it and in part because she complained about exactly the objection to the Kindle that most annoys me: I don’t use a Kindle because I love books. (Not only is this a category mistake (the book is not the physical object) but it is usually said with unearned smug moral superioty.)

    I quite liked the book and think you will too, and thus I recommend it. But I do want to quibble with one thing Brit said, which is that The Possessed is a memoir. It is quite clear to me that this is not a memoir, but a novel.

    [. . .]


  134. Dave Lull Says:

    Whatever your pleasure: From history to thrillers, our four-page guide to the 100 best holidays reads has something for everyone
    Sunday Times [London (UK)] 26 June 2011: 32.

    [. . .]

    THE POSSESSED by ELIF BATUMAN Granta Pounds 16.99 A delightfully entertaining tour of Russian literature — part travelogue, part memoir, part literary criticism.

    [. . .]


    Online as:

    Summer non-fiction reads


  135. Dave Lull Says:

    The Monthly
    Faraway Tales
    Elif Batuman’s ‘The Possessed’
    Robert Dessaix


  136. Dave Lull Says:

    Business Standard
    V V: From Russia with love
    V V / New Delhi July 30, 2011, 0:23 IST


  137. Dave Lull Says:

    The New Yorker
    The Book Bench
    August 11, 2011
    Posted by Stacey Mickelbart

    [. . .]

    Elif Batuman was also a runner-up for the PEN/Diamonstein-Speilvegel Award for the Art of the Essay for her book “The Possessed,” a portion of which appeared in the magazine as “The Ice Resistance” (subscription required). She recently profiled Turkish soccer fans in our pages (subscription required).

    [. . .]


  138. Dave Lull Says:

    Canadian Slavonic Papers / Mar 2011
    How the Curd Was Clotted: Accounting for Isaac Babel… and a Life of Literature*
    by Vinokur, Val

    [. . .]

    The Possessed is a mixed grill of much study. Its hallucinatory hilarity will be instantly and painfully recognized by anyone who has ever been possessed by books and surrounded by others likewise possessed.

    [. . .]

    *Review of Gregory Freidin, ed., The Enigma of Isaac Babel: Biography, History, Context. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009 (xvi, 270 pp. Illustrations. Index. $60.00, cloth) and Elif Batuman, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010 (296 pp. Bibliography. $15.00, paper).

    [. . .]

    VAL VINOKUR is the Undergraduate Director of literary studies and Director of Jewish Studies at Eugene Lang College (The New School). A Guggenheim Fellow in the field of translation, he is the author of The Trace of Judaism: Dostoevsky, Babel, Mande Is tarn, L�vinas (Northwestern University Press, 2008). His writing has appeared in The Boston Review, McSweeney’s, The Russian Review, Ze ek, and Common Knowledge.

    Copyright Canadian Association of Slavists Mar 2011
    Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved


  139. Dave Lull Says:

    Guardian first book award longlist: fiction takes lead
    Subjects range from 9/11 to gang warfare in London, while non-fiction titles include biography of cancer
    * Alison Flood
    * guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 31 August 2011 18.48 BST

    [. . .]

    and Elif Batuman’s The Possessed, a comic memoir of studying Russian literature at Stanford.

    [. . .]


  140. Dave Lull Says:

    Guardian first book award longlist
    Extract: The Possessed by Elif Batuman
    Read an excerpt from Elif Batuman’s Guardian first book award-longlisted memoir
    * Elif Batuman
    * guardian.co.uk, Thursday 1 September 2011 09.13 BST


  141. Dave Lull Says:

    Guardian First Book Award: the longlist 2011

    An at-a-glance guide to the 10 books – novels, non-fiction and poetry – that make up the longlist of the Guardian First Book Award, in association with Davidstow

    * Justine Jordan and Claire Armitstead
    * guardian.co.uk, Thursday 1 September 2011 09.34 BST

    The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman
    Batuman is a winning guide to the surreal worlds of Russian literature conferences, American graduate school and truly terrible language exchange programmes. Through all her globetrotting misadventures and encounters with academic monomania, her passion for the Russian classics is undiminished
    Read an extract from The Possessed
    Read Ian Sansom’s review


  142. Dave Lull Says:

    Business Standard
    A Russian revolution
    Nilanjana S Roy / New Delhi October 19, 2011, 5:24 IST

    P G Wodehouse took a bleak view of Russian novelists. Vladimir Brusiloff, introduced to his readers in The Clicking of Cuthbert, specialised in “grey studies of hopeless misery, where nothing happened till page three hundred and eighty, where the moujik decided to commit suicide”.

    Perhaps if Wodehouse had met Elif Batuman, New Yorker writer and literary critic, she might have persuaded him, as she does us, that reading Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Pushkin and company has (give or take a depressed moujik or two) much to offer the open-minded reader.

    The Possessed is a startling collection of essays on reading: funny, wise and imbued with Batuman’s particular brand of scattershot brilliance. [. . .]


  143. Dave Lull Says:

    Mail & Guardian Online
    Newspaper | Friday | Arts | Books
    Naivity, novelty and the writer’s art
    IMRAAN COOVADIA Nov 18 2011 13:45

    The Possessed Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman (Granta)

    The Naive and Sentimental Novelist: Understanding What Happens When We Write and Read Novels by Orhan Pamuk (Faber)


  144. Dave Lull Says:

    The Possessed by Elif Batuman – Edinburgh Book Review
    November 14th, 2011 by Shanaya Gandhi


  145. Dave Lull Says:

    The Guardian
    Books of the year 2011
    A novel about a dinner-party guest who won’t leave, a history of Henry VII, an inquiry into madness … Which books have most impressed our writers this year?
    Friday 25 November 2011 13.27 EST

    [. . .]

    Roddy Doyle
    We live in a time of deep recession but, here in Dublin, things still start at “brilliant” and work their way up. The Outlaw Album (Sceptre) is a collection of stories by one of the world’s great novelists, Daniel Woodrell, and it’s brilliant. I’m fond of big dark Russian books, so I loved Elif Batuman’s The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them (Granta). It’s exhilarating, funny and … brilliant. Jennifer Egan’s novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad (Corsair), is so good, so original, so surprising and wonderful – it’s just absolutely fuckin’ brilliant.

    [. . .]


  146. Dave Lull Says:

    Herald Scotland | Arts & Ents | Book Features: “the quirkiest book of the year”
    [. . .]

    James Boyle, former head of Radio 4

    Alice Oswald’s book of poetry, Memorial (Faber, £12.99), was the most imaginative book of the year. It tells relentlessly and movingly the names and deaths of the hoplites and Trojan foot soldiers of The Iliad: surely a new standard text for Remembrance Sunday. The Possessed by Elif Batuman (Granta, £16.99) was the quirkiest book of the year – starting with the illustration of Tolstoy playing tennis on the cover. A post-graduate student of Russian literature turns her academic pursuit into very amusing travel writing. Alasdair Gray failed to win the James Tait Black biography prize this year but he produced the most beautiful book of 2011 with A Life In Pictures (Canongate, £35). The first 20 pages are ravishing and fully repay the cover price.

    [. . .]


  147. Dave Lull Says:

    Sunday Telegraph Books of the Year: Part One
    Reviewers and guests choose their favourite books of the year

    [. . .]

    JUDITH FLANDERS Historian and author of ‘The Invention of Murder’ (Harper Press)

    It is safe to say that the studying-for-a-PhD-in-Russian-literature memoir is a thinly populated genre. But Elif Batuman’s The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them (Granta) is anarchically funny and, ultimately, a hymn to the pleasure of reading. Maria Edgeworth’s re-issued Patronage (Sort Of Books), written in the same year as Mansfield Park, has a roller-coaster plot that made it the perfect summer-holiday read. And this Christmas I plan to hole up with CJ Sansom’s backlist. I’ve just finished Dissolution (Pan) and the remainder make a reassuringly high pile.

    [. . .]


  148. Dave Lull Says:

    Volume 1 Brooklyn
    Indexing: Elif Batuman, Sara Levine, Don Quixote, James Wood, Matthew Henriksen, Gaslight Anthem, and a Brief Weather Report!
    by Tobias Carroll | December 10, 2011 · 11:47 am

    A roundup of things consumed by our editors.

    [. . .]

    Tobias Carroll
    [. . .]

    Also in the vein of Russian literature (or meditations on it), I closed out the week by re-reading Elif Batuman’s The Possessed for WORD’s Classics Book Group, and found it as compelling as I had on the first go-round. Given that Batuman’s been a regular presence in The New Yorker as of late, I’m hoping that another collection of her work isn’t far off.

    [. . .]


  149. Dave Lull Says:

    Review: The Possessed by Elif Batumann « The Dabbler


  150. Dave Lull Says:

    Pick of the paperbacks
    Sunday Times [London (UK)] 01 Apr 2012: 53.

    [. . .]

    THE POSSESSED Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by ELIF BATUMAN Granta Pounds 8.99/ebook Pounds 8.99

    Batuman’s refreshingly unlikely memoir recounts how — on a whim, after ploughing through Anna Karenina one summer at her grandmother’s house in Turkey — she decided to devote her life to studying the great Russian novelists. Over the seven years of her doctorate at Stanford, she then spent most of her time trying to escape: to a conference at Tolstoy’s homestead, to Chekhov’s house, even (by mistake) to Uzbekistan. Yet into these travels she weaves her witty, illuminating observations on the relationship between books and life, all the while surrendering to the mad passion that has set her in hot pursuit of Babel and Dostoevsky. The result is the funniest book you’re ever likely to read about Russian fiction.

    Robert Collins

    [. . .]


  151. Dave Lull Says:

    The Guardian
    Out in paperback: April non-fiction

    Three very different examples of life writing published in paperback this month. As reviewer Ian Sansom noted, “there are now hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of memoiristic sub-genres for readers to choose from: memoirs about dogs and cats; memoirs purportedly by dogs and cats; memoirs by the abused; memoirs by the families of the abused who deny that the abused were abused …” However, Sansom concedes, it is a “pretty safe bet that Elif Batuman’s The Possessed is the only memoir ever written about – or ever likely to be written about – studying Russian literature at Stanford University.”

    The book, longlisted for last year’s Guardian First Book award , weaves anecdotes and literary criticism around Batuman’s tales of her adventures in America, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Russia. “In some complicated way,” concludes Sansom. “The Possessed is a book about the relationship between art and life. But it’s also a simple book about the relationship between art and life. Or, rather, it’s a complicated book about the simple relationship between the two. In the end, all memoirs tend to end up as a defence of something, or someone – usually oneself. Batuman’s is a defence of reading as a form of living.”

    [. . .]


  152. Dave Lull Says:

    Time’s Flow Stemmed
    The Possessed by Elif Batuman
    Posted by Anthony on 26/06/2012


  153. Dave Lull Says:

    chasing bawa
    history, mystery and the bohemian life – a book blog

    The Possessed by Elif Batuman
    18 July, 2012


  154. Dave Lull Says:

    BYT Book Club
    Elif Batuman’sThe Possessed …


  155. Dave Lull Says:

    For the love of literature: Elif Batuman’s The Possessed | Notes on metamodernism
    by Mara Maticevic on Sep 4, 2012 • 10:02 am


  156. Dave Lull Says:

    A book review by Danny Yee


  157. Dave Lull Says:

    Frankfurt Briefcase 2012: What the American Agencies Are Bringing to the Fair
    By Rachel Deahl
    Sep 24, 2012

    At this year’s publishing pow-wow in Germany: John Banville channels Raymond Chandler; Daniel Woodrell explores a 1929 American bombing; Michael Pollan gets elemental; Elif Batuman tries fiction; and Lionel Shriver goes to Iowa.


  158. Dave Lull Says:

    [. . .]

    The Wylie Agency

    [. . .]

    From Elif Batuman is The Two Lives, the debut novel from lauded essayist/journalist and author of The Possessed. The agency described the novel as “eight self-standing but interconnected chapters” that “revisit the territory of eight articles Batuman actually reported in Italy, Israel, and Turkey… but interwoven with the kinds of human backstories that never make it into a nonfiction feature”; no rights yet sold, and delivery is set for September

    [. . .]


  159. Dave Lull Says:

    The Bookseller
    Harvill acquires novel from Batuman
    05.10.12 | Charlotte Williams


  160. Dave Lull Says:

    Book Trade
    Press Release: Deals Done
    Batuman Debut Novel To Harvill Secker
    Posted at 6:14PM Sunday 07 Oct 2012


  161. Dave Lull Says:

    Top of the Shelf – Indian Express

    [. . .]

    Anuradha Roy, author

    [. . .]

    The Possessed by Elif Batuman.

    This is a quirky book of essays. It’s hard to imagine a literary study of Russian fiction being laugh-aloud funny, but reading it on a train, I noticed only too late that my co-passengers were staring as if I were a lunatic on the loose.

    [. . .]

  162. Dave Lull Says:

    Here’s the URL for Anuradha Roy’s comment from the Indian Express:


  163. Dave Lull Says:

    The Possessed induces extreme laughter, unexpected joy
    Book Reviews, Posted on Feb 19, 2013 at 02:11pm IST
    Vivek Tejuja, IBNLive Specials


  164. Dave Lull Says:

    The Possessed: A Club I’d Actually Like To Join


  165. Dave Lull Says:

    Here’s the orrect URL for “The Possessed: A Club I’d Actually Like to Join”:


  166. Dave Lull Says:

    Book Excerpts
    Two Rivers: Glitter
    Karakum Desert and Canal


  167. Dave Lull Says:

    Book Excerpts
    Two Rivers: Source
    Pamir and Tien Shen Mountains


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