Dear readers!  I am still greatly chagrined about having to miss not only the Chicago reading but also the visit to Redlands University, where I had been enormously looking forward to meeting Alisa Slaughter, Joy Manesiotis (author of a very beautiful and apropos poem about lamenting women), and their students, whom I thank for their interest in The Possessed, and whom I very much hope to meet at some point in the future.

In the meantime, tolerant readers, you may or may not be filled with admiration to learn that I was able to spare a moment from my rigorous program of swamp-related activity in order to deliver a 200-word opinion on the future of evolutionary-psychological literary criticism, for which purpose I temporarily assumed the form of a miniscule talking head:


The original of that tiny photograph was taken by super-chef Musa Dağdeviren and, in its uncropped version, shows me holding a bunch of greens known in Turkish as “snake’s pillow” or “heathen’s beet.”


I write about my encounter with this interesting vegetable in a profile of Musa, which will appear in next week’s New Yorker.  They ended up making a lot of cuts, so I’m posting an unexpurgated version of the heathen’s beet incident.

On the subject of the New Yorker piece, I would also like to thank super-journalists Wesley Yang and Suzy Hansen, because Suzy was the one who told Wesley that we should check out Musa’s restaurant, and Wesley was the one who made me go there with him.

I actually tried to mention Mr. Yang by name in the article, but it got cut, along with more than half of the other things I tried to mention in the article. (I, a tireless graphomaniac, wrote 11,000 words, of which 5,200 will be published).  Yang was, however, contacted by the super-scrupulous fact-checkers, whom he informed that the single quote attributed, in the final version, to my unnamed “friend”—”it might be heavy cream”—should actually have been: “it might be whipped cream.”  Yang and I subsequently had a productive discussion on this important distinction:

Me: Isn’t whipped cream made with heavy cream?

Yang: Yes.  But then they whip it.

But OK, dear readers, I had better get back to the dredging and sluicing. The swamp keeps piling up, especially since my entire staff was knocked out last week by what turned out to be a hairball problem, now happily resolved.  I think I was working them too hard, and not taking the time to listen to their opinions on the pressing literary issues of our day.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

154 Responses to “TALKING HEADS”

  1. SW Foska Says:

    surely whipped cream is made with unwhipped cream? but then again maybe it’s unwhipped in the same sense – apropos of novels and evolution – as that in which a plot unfolds (or thickens), i.e. by having its whippedness whipped out of it.

  2. dimiter Says:

    Hmm… I thought whipped cream is made by cow-whipping Oompa-Loompas.

  3. Elif Says:

    OK that is just weird—I was just writing about Oompa Loompas, in a not-yet-published book review. This is a great new outsourcing idea: if I end up trying to write a novel, I should totally hire a team of whip-bearing subaltern dwarfs to keep the plot thick enough.

  4. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman
    THU APR 22, 2010
    Host: Michael Silverblatt

  5. Peli Grietzer Says:

    I can tell the picture is a fake because your cat’s grammar is too good.

  6. rootlesscosmo Says:

    By way of thanks for The Possessed:

    Shevchenko in Urum!

  7. Dave Lull Says:

    Audio Slide Show
    A Chef in Istanbul

    April 19, 2010
    This week in the magazine, Elif Batuman writes about the Turkish chef Musa Dağdeviren and his restaurant Çiya Sofrasi. “Tapping into a powerful vein of collective food memory, Çiya was producing the kind of Turkish cuisine that Turkey itself, racing toward the West and the future, seemed to have abandoned,” Batuman writes. Here she describes her reaction to Dağdeviren’s dishes and her memories of her Turkish family. Photographs by Carolyn Drake.

  8. Dave Lull Says:

    This week in the magazine, Elif Batuman profiles the Turkish chef Musa Dağdeviren. Here Batuman talks with Blake Eskin about Dağdeviren’s culinary philosophy, how his food triggers family memories, and why plucking her first turkey made her think of Isaac Babel.

    Listen to the mp3 on the player above, or right-click here to download.

  9. Dave Lull Says:

    Those Who Wait
    Published: April 16, 2010
    Mixing and matching elements from three periods of Soviet history, Olga Grushin’s powerful novel keeps characters in line for a concert that may never happen.

  10. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman THU APR 22, 2010
    Host:Michael Silverblatt

    Listen to entire show:

  11. Dave Lull Says:

    Stephen Dodson

    I enjoy Elif Batuman’s writing and her take on Russian literature, but
    I have a couple of bones to pick with her review of Olga Grushin’s
    “The Line” (April 18)

  12. Dave Lull Says:

    ABC Radio National
    The Book Show
    Addicted to the Russian classics: Elif Batuman

    Sarah L’Estrange “. . . spoke to Elif Batuman in San Franscisco about The Possessed, and asked her how she became addicted to Russian novels.”

  13. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed: a ‘responsive’ interview
    May 13, 2010 – 12:03 pm, by Angela Meyer

  14. Dave Lull Says:

    Harper’s Magazine Presents Death: A Literary Celebration of the Bitter End Featuring Joseph O’Neill, Diane Williams, and Elif Batuman,1307260.shtml

  15. burcu Says:

    Dear Elif,
    As a follower of you blog and a big fan of Ciya I enjoyed your piece on M Dagdeviren in New Yorker. Maybe you and I can collaborate on a piece on decadent Turkish food.

  16. Dave Lull Says:

    KCRW’s Bookworm
    Favorite Books: John Waters and Elif Batuman

  17. Dave Lull Says:

    Favorite Books: John Waters and Elif Batuman – Bookworm on KCRW

    Russian Book recommendations

    Leo Tolstoy: Anna Karenina
    Alexander Pushkin: Eugene Onegin
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Crime and Punishment
    Isaac Babel: Red Cavalry (includes all of the Red Cavalry cycle plus Babel’s 1920 diary)
    Anton Chekov, two plays: Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard; stories: Lady with Lap Dog, A Boring Story, In the Ravine, The Sneeze
    Nikoli Gogol: Dead Souls
    Ivan Goncharov: Oblomov
    Ivan Turgenev: Fathers and Sons
    Andrey Platonov: The Foundation Pit; Soul
    Andrei Bely: Petersberg

  18. Dave Lull Says:

    My 12-Hour Blind Date, With Dostoevsky
    July 13, 2010 | by Elif Batuman
    A review in five parts.

  19. Dave Lull Says:

    My 12-Hour Blind Date: The Play Begins
    July 14, 2010 | by Elif Batuman
    Part two of a four-part review.

  20. Dave Lull Says:

    Back on Planet Dostoevsky
    July 15, 2010 | by Elif Batuman
    Part three of a four-part review

  21. Dave Lull Says:

    The Only Ones Left on the Island
    July 16, 2010 | by Elif Batuman
    The final installment of a four-part review.

    Tomorrow: The epilogue.

  22. Dave Lull Says:

    The End of The Date
    July 19, 2010 | by Elif Batuman
    An epilogue.

  23. Dave Lull Says:

    Seductive Banter
    In Which I Am Forgiven By Elif Batuman
    Ujala Sehgal

  24. Dave Lull Says:

    Pathologically Shy; Loving The Possessed
    September 3, 2010 | by Lorin Stein | File under Ask The Paris Review

    I loved Elif Batuman’s book The Possessed. Do you know of any similar books like hers? —Anonymous

    I don’t! Lucky for us, Ms. Batuman was kind enough to step in with her own recommendations:

  25. Dave Lull Says:

    ‘Do you read e-books?’

    ‘Elif Batuman writes: “Yes, I have a Kindle and e-books have changed my reading habits a lot in the past year. For example, I now buy books almost exclusively while drunk.”’

  26. Dave Lull Says:

    London Review of Books
    Vol. 32 No. 18 · 23 September 2010
    pages 3-8 | 8439 words

    Get a Real Degree
    Elif Batuman

    * The Programme Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing by Mark McGurl
    Harvard, 480 pp, £25.95, April 2009, ISBN 978 0 674 03319 1

  27. Dave Lull Says:

    New York Times Magazine
    Kafka’s Last Trial

    A tale of eccentric heirs, Zionist claims, a cat-infested apartment and a court fight the author would have understood all too well.

  28. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman’la Rus Edebiyati

  29. Dave Lull Says:

    Denis Dutton links to “Kafka’s Last Trial” at Arts and Letters Daily:

    “Will the door be opened to Franz Kafka’s last manuscripts? Only the doorkeeper knows. Or does he know? Kafka’s afterlife is a parable, too… more»”

  30. Dave Lull Says:

    Best American Essays 2010 « BREVITY’s Nonfiction Blog

    [. . .]

    The folks at Essay Daily have been nice enough to post the table of contents of Best American Essays 2010 for those of us still waiting for our copies to arrive. So here goes:

    Elif Batuman- The Murder of Leo Tolstoy (Harper’s)

    [. . .]

  31. Dave Lull Says:

    Lowell Humanities Lecture Series: Elif Batuman

  32. Dave Lull Says:

    Buying books is fun, with a glass in your hand
    Author, author: Elif Batuman
    * Elif Batuman
    * The Guardian, Saturday 2 October 2010

  33. Dave Lull Says:

    The Boston Globe
    A PhD memoirist who shops for books after few nightcaps
    Elif Batuman says what makes a book good is that it is compulsively readable.
    By Amanda Katz
    Globe Correspondent / October 3, 2010

  34. Dave Lull Says:

    Turkish-American Author Visits Boston College
    Written by Morgan Chalfant Oct 19, 2010

  35. Dave Lull Says:

    Arts & Culture
    Authors In Conversation: Ben Greenman And Elif Batuman
    By Jason Diamond / November 8, 2010

  36. Dave Lull Says:

    NaNoWriMo, Writer Resources
    ‘Everyone Has a Certain Amount of Bad Writing to Get Out of Their System’ : NaNoWriMo Tip #15
    By Jason Boog on November 15, 2010 8:22 AM

  37. Dave Lull Says:

    Here On Earth: Radio Without Borders
    The Possessed
    December 08, 2010 Wednesday AT 3PM CT

  38. Dave Lull Says:

    Winternachten festival 2011

    Elif Batuman

    participant in

    Winternachten Lecture – Tim Parks
    Winternacht 1
    The Beauty of the Life of the Other
    Winternacht 2
    The comfort of the bedside table
    Wintercafe 2: VPRO De Avonden

  39. Dave Lull Says:

    Cervantes, Balzac and double-entry bookkeeping
    A lecture by Elif Batuman

    Monday 21 February, 18.30
    BP Lecture Theatre, British Museum

    When Don Quixote is dubbed a knight – a key moment in the history of the novel – the local innkeeper swears him in on an account book. Balzac is known to have kept on his bookshelf, beside the published edition of his Contes Drolatique (Droll Tales), a black-bound volume titled Comptes Mélancoliques (Melancholy Accounts): a compendium of his debts. What is the secret relationship between double-entry bookkeeping and the novel?

    In the story Elif Batuman tells, these two writing practices originate from a single historical moment and a single historical urge: the impossible desire to write at the rate of life itself. Cervantes, who worked for seven years as a bookkeeper for the Spanish Armada, was the first to give novelistic shape to this desire – which Balzac, an erstwhile clerk, experienced perhaps more intensely than any other novelist. This lecture will trace the theme of double-entry in the life and work of these two literary giants.

    Elif Batuman, who studied at Harvard and Stanford, has published essays on comic books, Kafka, Samarkand, creative writing programmes and St Petersburg’s ice palace, among other things, in the LRB, the New Yorker, the New York Times and n+1. Her first book, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and People Who Read Them, will be out in the spring. She recently won a Whiting Writers Award – past winners include Jorie Graham, David Foster Wallace and Jeffrey Eugenides – and is spending this year in Istanbul.

    To purchase tickets please click here
    Or call +44 (0)20 7323 8181 – Ticket Desk in Great Court Open 10.00 to 16.45 daily.

    The ticket prices are £10 (£8 concessions including LRB subscribers and Friends of the British Museum).

  40. Dave Lull Says:

    NYC ARTS > Venues > Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space > Listings > Selected Shorts: Russian Tales, Classic and New, with Elif Batuman and Keith Gessen

  41. Dave Lull Says:

    The Goal of Predictions: “Who Am I?” – Room for Debate –

    The Role of ‘Who Am I?”
    December 28, 2010
    Elif Batuman is the author “The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them.”

  42. Dave Lull Says:

    Faces we watched in 2010: Where they are now | Jacket Copy | Los Angeles Times
    December 30, 2010 | 5:43 pm

    [. . .]

    Like Skloot, critic Elif Batuman had published short pieces, but 2010 saw the release of her first book. “The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them” comprises seven essays that merge criticism, personal experience and scholarship. It was singled out as one of the best nonfiction books of the year by both the popular newspaper USA Today and by New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead. Batuman has a knack for tickling the literary zeitgeist: Her review[*] of Marc McGurl’s “The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing” in the London Review of Books launched a fleet of online debates about MFA programs, McGurl’s version and Batuman’s slant on them both.

    [. . .]

    – Carolyn Kellogg


  43. Dave Lull Says:

    Why Criticism Matters –
    From the Critical Impulse, the Growth of Literature
    Essay by Elif Batuman

  44. Dave Lull Says:

    Thirteen Things on the Web | HTMLGIANT
    January 4th, 2011 / 10:44 am
    Kyle Minor

    [. . .]

    5. Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed, is blogging beautifully at My Life and Thoughts.

    [. . .]

  45. Dave Lull Says:

    Judges for the 2011 Tournament of Books

  46. Dave Lull Says:

    Show Down! Literary Stars Support Union In Dispute At Harper’s Magazine
    Ujala Sehgal | Jan. 25, 2011, 3:53 PM

    [. . .]

    The 84 names on the list include Zadie Smith, Barbara Ehrenreich, George Saunders, Elif Batuman, William Gass, Jonathan Lethem, Sam Lipsyte, and Naomi Klein.

    They lent their considerable gravitas to call upon [the publisher of Harper's] MacArthur to reconsider the layoffs of [literary editor] Metcalf and [Harper's Index editor] Ross, just a day before the scheduled meeting between MacArthur’s representatives and union officials.

    [. . .]

  47. Dave Lull Says:

    2/21/11 – London, UK
    “Cervantes, Balzac, and Double-Entry Bookkeeping”
    London Review of Books Winter Lectures series
    The British Museum – BP Theatre, 6:30PM,_don_cervantes.aspx

  48. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman on the double-entry book-keeping of writing « A Cultural Policy Blog

  49. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman and Pavel Basinsky | Southbank Centre.

  50. Dave Lull Says:

    25 February 2011
    The Granta blog
    Yuka Igarashi
    Elif Batuman In Search of Accountable Time

  51. Dave Lull Says:

    “A history of a kind of novel that uses double-entry bookkeeping as a metaphor for credit and debit between living and writing” – London Review of Books Winter Lecture Series #3: Cervantes, Balzac and Double-Entry Bookkeeping « Bookmunch
    Published: February 24, 2011 / 6:48 am

  52. Dave Lull Says:

    March 7, 2011
    Beloved Beşiktaş
    A Podcast with Elif Batuman : The New Yorker

  53. Dave Lull Says:

    #197 British Museum LRB Lecture
    March 1, 2011
    by MrBrown

  54. Dave Lull Says:

    Festival Programme 2011 – Elif Batuman & Geoff Dyer,com_rsevents/Itemid,127/cid,28/layout,invite/view,events/

  55. Dave Lull Says:

    Dani Gill – injecting new energy into Cúirt
    Galway Advertiser, March 10, 2011.
    By Charlie Mcbride

    NEXT MONTH sees the 26th Cúirt International Literature Festival when writers and booklovers from far and wide will converge on Galway from April 12 to 17 , to enjoy this justly fêted celebration of the written word.

    [. . .]

    “Elif Batuman will be discussing her book, which is also a debut, Possessed – Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them. She’s great too! . . . .” [--Dani Gill]

    [. . .]

  56. Dave Lull Says:

    Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival

    10 April 2011

    Elif Batuman 901

    The possessed: adventures with
    Russian books and the people who
    read them

    10am / Christ Church: Festival Room 2 / £10

    This is the true story of one woman’s intellectual,
    sentimental and often hilarious adventures while
    exploring the Russian classics and the stories of those
    who wrote them. Beginning with a description of a
    conference about Isaac Babel in California at which
    various destinies intersect, Elif Batuman follows the
    footsteps of her favourite authors both literally and
    metaphorically, searching for the answers to the big

    She investigates a possible murder at Tolstoy’s
    ancestral estate, travels to Samarkand and St
    Petersburg; retraces Pushkin’s wanderings in the
    Caucasus; learns why Old Uzbek has 100 different
    words for crying; and sees an 18th-century ice palace
    reconstructed on the Neva.

    Elif received fantastic reviews for her book. It was a
    New York Times bestseller and won the Jaffe
    Foundation Writer’s Award and the prestigious Whiting
    Award. She has come over from the US especially to be
    with us in Oxford and appear at the Festival.

  57. Dave Lull Says:

    National Book Critics Circle: Video: NBCC 2010 Finalists Reading – Critical Mass Blog

    Elif begins at about 01:33:00, right after Kay Ryan.

  58. Dave Lull Says:

    The Morning News Tournament of Books
    March 22, 2011

    Howard Jacobson
    1The Finkler Question
    2A Visit From the Goon Squad
    Jennifer Egan

    Judged by
    Elif Batuman

  59. Dave Lull Says:

    Full Stop
    Elif Batuman
    in conversation with Helen Stuhr-Rommereim | 11 April 2011

  60. Dave Lull Says:

    April 13, 2011 – Literary Death Match
    Tickets still available on the door!
    After our most lap-slapping LDM London event ever (using a complicated “hilarity index”), we return to our more literary roots (and to Concrete) for Ep. 14, sponsored by Picador, with a lineup that’ll have you racing to Foyles to stock up on summer reading.

    The reading lineup is comprised of a blissful foursome that includes Booker long-listee Edward Docx (author of Self Help, and the very-soon-to-release (April 4) The Devil’s Garden), the “almost helplessly epigrammatical” Granta reader-rep, Elif Batuman (author of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them), stunning actress/author Abigail Tartellin (author of Beautiful Books’ latest release, Flick) and the deservingly-beloved author of Ten Stories About Smoking, Stuart Evers!

    They’ll be judged by the night’s all-star arbiters, including Sunday Times film critic Cosmo Landesman (author of Starstruck: Fame, Failure, My Family & Me), belle of every literary ball Anna Goodall (former Pen Pusher editor) and actress-hilaritress extraordinaire, Samantha Baines!

    Hosted by Todd Zuniga.

    Where: Concrete, 56 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6JJ (map)
    When: Doors at 7, Show at 8:15 (sharp); afterdrinks after.
    Cost: £5 preorder (click “Buy Now” above); £8 on the door.

  61. Dave Lull Says:

    Cultural Capital
    Reflections on books and the arts from the New Statesman culture desk
    In the Critics this Week
    Posted on 14 April 2011 18:11
    An American writing special with Elif Batuman, Dave Eggers and Jonathan Derbyshire on David Foster Wallace.

    [. . .]

    This week’s critic-at-large, Elif Batuman, recalls her short-lived experience of creative writing courses, and wonders whether they have “damaged America’s literary imagination”.

    [. . .]

  62. Dave Lull Says:

    The Independent
    Tom Sutcliffe: Not all boredom makes you drowsy
    The week in culture
    Friday, 15 April 2011

    There’s often a moment in a book when your intellectual engagement with the author’s argument trips over into something more intimate, a kind of identification which is as dumb – at heart – as finding you share a taste for a certain kind of chocolate. It happened to me the other day when reading Elif Batuman’s very entertaining book The Possessed – a kind of memoir of an intellectual infatuation with Russian literature. Frankly everything had been going swimmingly anyway up to page 89. Her opening chapter, an account of helping out as an undergraduate at a Stanford conference of Isaac Babel enthusiasts, is a minor masterpiece of campus comedy – a Lucky Jim that also happens to be real. But on page 89, we really bonded when she referred to her first encounter with Orhan Pamuk’s novel The Black Book. “I remember reading this on a bus in Turkey”, she writes, “and being deeply, viscerally bored”. I liked two things about this. One, that she had the nerve to say it at all – Orhan Pamuk being something of a sacred cow in some circles (he’s won the Nobel Prize, after all). And two that I’d been there with her. Not Turkey, I mean, but the state of tedium. There are passages of Orhan Pamuk’s prose that have challenged my eyelids in a way only matched by surgical anaesthetic.

    I thought of that moment again while reading The Pale King, David Foster Wallace’s “posthumous novel” [. . .]

  63. Dave Lull Says:

    The Telegraph
    A Page in the Life: Elif Batuman
    Viv Groskop talks to an engagingly eccentric young writer, Elif Batuman, about her book The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, which tells how she modelled her life on the great Russian novels.
    By Helen Brown 2:41PM BST 14 Apr 2011

  64. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman: Life after a bestseller

    Elif Batuman’s life changed when she published a hit book. She writes about how it feels no longer to be the outsider – and about asking Jonathan Franzen for some weed, Thursday 21 April 2011 12.59 BST

  65. Dave Lull Says:

    New Statesman
    The strange craft of American writing
    Elif Batuman
    Published 20 April 2011
    Have creative writing courses killed off America’s literary imagination?

    This is an edited extract from Elif Batuman’s “The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and the People who Read Them” (Granta Books, £16.99)

  66. Dave Lull Says:

    “Türkçeyi 12 Eylül sayesinde öğrendim”

  67. Dave Lull Says:

    Google “translates” “Türkçeyi 12 Eylül sayesinde öğrendim”

  68. Dave Lull Says: / syllabi
    May 2 2011
    Dangerous Friends
    Elif Batuman

  69. Dave Lull Says:

    The Strand – 28/04/2011
    Harriett talks to the winners of this year’s Kraszna-Krausz Best Photography Book of the Year, novelist [sic] Elif Batuman and Clio Barnard the director behind The Arbor

  70. Dave Lull Says:

    LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS | The MFA Octopus: Four Questions About Creative Writing
    Mark McGurl

  71. Dave Lull Says:

    Duck Beater
    Mark McGurl Thinks Elif Batuman Is the Ann Coulter of Literary Journalism; or, The MFA Octopus
    [Evan Bryson is a writer living in Indiana.]

  72. Dave Lull Says:

    A Commonplace Blog:
    Thursday, May 12, 2011
    The paradoxical politics of creative writing
    Posted by D G [Myers] at 9:05 AM

  73. Dave Lull Says:

    The National
    A return to literary classics, with a twist
    David Mattin
    Last Updated: May 23, 2011

    Elif Bautman’s hilarious tour of 19th-century literature tells the story of contemporary writing’s own struggle for relevance. [. . .a tour to support international publication . . . brings her to London, to talk to me.]

  74. Dave Lull Says:

    Mail & Guardian Online
    Memorable season for long-suffering Pirates fans

    [. . .]

    This trait of Pirates’ fans reminds me of the fans of the Turkish club, Besiktas. Their chant, captured so eloquently by the New Yorker’s Elif Batuman, goes: “Besiktas is the most surreal team in the world. Fenerbahce and Galatasaray only care about winning, but Besiktas is essentially irrational and therefore essentially human.”

    [. . .]

  75. Dave Lull Says:

    Vladimir Nabokov: Genius or narcissist?

    With publication of yet another florid paean to Lolita’s creator, Viv Groskop asks what it means to be the ultimate ‘writer’s writer’
    Sunday, 29 May 2011

    [. . .]

    Elif Batuman (Favourite Nabokov: “Pale Fire – it really is the most incredible book”), the author of this year’s surprise non-fiction bestseller The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and People Who Read Them (Granta, £16.99), has a wonderful theory on Nabokov: “He plays to the fantasies of artsy people with the chess, the butterflies, the Russianness, but he’s the ultimate crossover artist. He gets all the role-playing fans with Zembla; he gets all the aesthetes with nostalgia and Rimbaud; and he gets the creative-writing types with the incredibly vivid pictures of Americana. I think he tried to be everything to all people, like Shakespeare.”

    [. . .]

  76. Dave Lull Says:

    The Dabbler
    Book-odourise your Kindle!
    By Guest Tuesday May 31, 2011

  77. Dave Lull Says:

    The Christian Science Monitor
    Write stuff: The workshop that shapes American literature
    By Robert A. Lehrman, / correspondent / June 25, 2011
    Iowa City, Iowa

    The Iowa Writers’ Workshop, on its 75th anniversary, offers a window into the state of American letters.
    (Page 2 of 7)

    [. . .]

    I ask her about the latest antiwriting program broadside, a scathing London Review of Books piece by critic Elif Batuman with a title that tells you what’s ahead: “Get a Real Degree.”

    Dr. Batuman argues that workshops encourage craft, not excellence, tolerate students ignorant of literary tradition, and encourage “cookie cutter” stories. Of the typical workshop story, Batuman says, “I probably wouldn’t read it for fun.”

    [. . .]

    Canin despises the cookie-cutter argument, using a term I can’t quote. Yet Batuman isn’t wrong about everything. Of course some students need to know more. She may even have a point when she says writing-program stories are not “fun.”

    [. . .]

  78. Elif Says:

    hooray, batuman isn’t wrong about everything! for the record, i don’t remember ever using the word “cookie-cutter” in this context (or really any other context)… as far as c.w. goes, i don’t think it’s like cutting cookies, i think it’s more like weaving lanyards…

  79. Dave Lull Says:

    Roz Chast | The Comics Journal
    Know Your New Yorker Cartoonists
    BY Richard Gehr Jun 14, 2011

  80. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman at Cúirt 2011

  81. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman & Geoff Dyer Q&A at Cúirt 2011 (Part 1)

  82. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman & Geoff Dyer Q&A at Cúirt 2011 (Part 2)

  83. Dave Lull Says:

    Google Translate version of “Tolstoi es el cine y Dostoyevski el teatro. Me quedo con el cine”:

    “Tolstoy and Dostoevsky is the movie theater. I keep the movies”
    The U.S. firm Elif Batuman a learned and entertaining work of autofiction in ‘The Possessed’

  84. Dave Lull Says:

    The New York Observer
    75 Years of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop: the Essay Collection
    By Emily Witt

    On a Tumblr far away in the Upper Midwest, lots of essays are being published about the experience of doing an MFA in creative writing at the University of Iowa.

    [. . .] As far as graduate school memoirs go, thus far we might trade 75 IWW essays for one by Elif Batuman. [. . .]

    [. . .]

  85. Dave Lull Says:

    HOME culturebox Arts, entertainment, and more.
    Authors, critics, and editors on “great books” that aren’t all that great.
    By Juliet LapidosPosted Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011, at 11:46 AM ET

    [. . .]

    Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed

    Like many people, I enjoy learning which canonical books are unbeloved by which contemporary writers. However, I don’t think participants in such surveys ought to blame either themselves (”I’m so lazy/uneducated”) or the canonical books (”Ulysses is so overrated”). My view is that the right book has to reach you at the right time, and no person can be reached by every book. Literature is supposed to be beautiful and/or necessary—so if at a given time you don’t either enjoy or need a certain book, then you should read something else, and not feel guilty about it.

    Canonical books I did not enjoy include The Iliad and The Sound and the Fury, and, although I did read Ulysses with some degree of technical interest, it wasn’t fun for me. I maintain that this doesn’t reflect badly on Homer, Faulkner, Joyce, or me.

    [. . .]

  86. Dave Lull Says:

    The URL for the text just above:

  87. Dave Lull Says:

    What’s the worst great book you ever read? | The Book Haven
    [by Cynthia Haven]

    [. . .]

    Not unsurprisingly, the most generous words come from Elif Batuman

    [. . .]

    FYI on Elif: Her The Possessed: Adventures With Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, was plugged by Imitatio here. (hat tip, Dave Lull). Why the a surprise? Imitatio is the organization founded to study the ideas of René Girard, and some consider her book to be a spoof of those same ideas, with an obsessed and charismatic graduate student so unable to break the chain of mimetic desire that he finds peace and happiness only in a monastery. My own opinion: she has done a lot to revive an interest in his ideas for a new generation. The site links to the glowing Guardian review that notes the hit memoir’s “detailed engagement with René Girard’s theory of the novel and mimetic desire.”

    René told me he hadn’t read it, but when I explained the plot story about the graduate student, he chuckled sagely.

    [. . .]

  88. Dave Lull Says:

    Writers and Writing
    FRIDAY, AUG 19, 2011 13:21 ET
    Fascinating Solzhenitsyn story makes English debut
    A newly translated story by the Russian master asks elegant, timeless questions

  89. Dave Lull Says:

    The New Yorker
    The Talk of the Town
    In the World
    by Elif Batuman September 12, 2011
    Subscribers can read this article on our iPad app or in our online archive. (Others can pay for access.)
    September 12, 2011 Issue

    ABSTRACT: Talk story about the writer moving to Istanbul after the September 11th attacks.

  90. Dave Lull Says:

    Douglas McGray
    Writer, New York Times Magazine
    The World’s First Live Magazine
    Posted: 10/4/11 11:37 AM ET

    Tickets to Pop-Up Magazine, the world’s first “live magazine,” go on sale today, Tuesday October 4th, at noon sharp, [. . .] The show will feature 20 acclaimed writers, documentary filmmakers, radio producers, and photographers, live on stage at Davies Symphony Hall, followed by drinks.

    [. . .]

    In just four shows, we’ve been lucky to feature an amazingly talented group of contributors on stage:
    [. . .] writers Michael Pollan, Mary Roach, Yiyun Li, William Finnegan, Daniel Alarcón, Peggy Orenstein, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Jeff Chang, Rebecca Solnit, Jon Mooallem, and Elif Batuman [. . .]

  91. Dave Lull Says:

    The Zuccotti Literatti: Slumbering Prolixariat Awakes
    By Emily Witt 3:55pm

    As support for Occupy Wall Street grew in recent weeks to include all kinds of professional associations and trade unions, the writer Jeff Sharlet thought that some writers might eventually band together and circulate a statement — and maybe even sign it.

    [. . .]

    With his former research assistant and fellow journalist, Kiera Feldman, and Mr. Rushdie’s seal of approval (along with help from writers like Francine Prose, who sent the letter to all her writer friends) Occupy Writers, as the formerly preoccupied group came to be known, soon gathered more than 200 signatures. In addition to Mr. Rushdie, the list as it stands so far includes everyone from Pulitzer-prizewinning novelist Jennifer Egan to New Yorker writer Elif Batuman to short story writer George Saunders. There are well-known activists (Barbara Ehrenreich, Naomis Klein and Wolf, and academic Judith Butler), fantasy writers (Neil Gaiman and China Miéville) and a lengthy roster of heavyweight novelists, including Ann Patchett, Allan Gurganus, Jonathan Lethem and Donna Tartt. Even children’s writer Lemony Snicket signed on, along with the editors of n+1, Tin House, The Awl, Lapham’s Quarterly, The Nation, The Onion and Guernica.

    [. . .]

  92. Dave Lull Says:

    The New Yorker
    Letter from Turkey
    Natural Histories
    A journey in the shadow of Ararat.
    by Elif Batuman October 24, 2011

  93. Dave Lull Says:

    The New Yorker
    Life in Kars
    October 17, 2011

    This week in the magazine, Elif Batuman travels to Kars, a city in northeastern Turkey, to visit an ornithologist. Here Blake Eskin talks with Batuman about the history of Kars, the challenges facing wildlife there, and how the human world and the natural world are interwoven.

    Listen to the mp3 on the player above, or right-click here to download.

  94. Dave Lull Says:

    Lemony Snicket’s “observations” on Occupy Wall Street
    The “Series of Unfortunate Events” author backs the Occupy movement via


    The list of sympathetic signatories on grows longer and more formidable by the day.

    The many hundreds of writers who have so far volunteered their names in support of Occupy Wall Street and its international offshoots include Margaret Atwood, Elif Batuman, Noam Chomsky, Billy Collins, Michael Cunningham, Emma Donoghue, Jennifer Egan, Barbara Ehrenreich, Eve Ensler, Sasha Frere-Jones, Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Lethem, Ann Patchett, Francine Prose, Salman Rushdie, Gloria Steinem — and many, many more. Not to mention Salon’s very own Joan Walsh, Laura Miller and David Sirota!

    [. . .]

  95. Dave Lull Says:

    Saturday, Oct 22, 2011 4:00 PM CST
    Why critics of MFA programs have it wrong
    Salon exclusive: The Iowa Writers’ Workshop director defends MFAs, laments young stardom and book-world cynicism
    By Curtis Sittenfeld

  96. Dave Lull Says:

    Barnes & Noble Review
    Guest Books
    Roz Chast
    The cartoonist on three fiction favorites.

  97. Dave Lull Says:

    The Bookseller
    Ricks to chair Man Booker International Prize judges
    02.12.11 | Benedicte Page

    The judging panel for the 2013 Man Booker International Prize will be chaired by scholar and critic Sir Christopher Ricks. Writers Elif Batuman, Aminatta Forna, Yiyun Li and Tim Parks will join Ricks to judge the biennial award, worth £60,000.

    [. . .]

  98. Dave Lull Says:

    Save the Date—January 21 Announcement of NBCC Finalists
    by admin | Dec-04-2011

    The National Book Critics Circle invites you to join us on January 21 at Artists Space in New York for the announcement of the 2011 NBCC finalists in fiction, nonfiction, biography, autobiography, criticism, and poetry, as well as the recipients of the Nona A. Balakian Citaion for Excellence in Reviewing and the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award. Special guests announcing the 2011 finalists are:

    [. . .]

    Criticsm: Elif Batuman, 2010 NBCC finalist for The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them

    [. . .]

  99. Dave Lull Says:

    The New Yorker
    Dept. of Archeology
    The Sanctuary
    [Göbekli Tepe in Turkey] The world’s oldest temple and the dawn of civilization.
    by Elif Batuman December 19, 2011

    Subscribers can read this article on our iPad app or in our online archive. (Others can pay for access.)

  100. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman | Full Stop
    14 December 2011
    in conversation with Helen Stuhr-Rommereim

  101. Dean Kastel Says:

    Re: Urfa.
    It is a delight to read a well–working mind confront the mysteries of mankind and have the courage to bring her own response to the writing thereof. For reasons you know much better, I was frequently deferred think of David’s MacCauley’s “Motel of the Mysteries”, a hilarious spoof on the imaginings of archeology. Perhaps the fine point you draw in your “wry” observations caused my aberration. In the larger sense, however, you too have shown how civilization/ mankind is still engaged in the making of myths….the deep-seated need to make “sense” of where and what we have come from.

    I was truly grateful to see your inclusion of other voices, each in their own way struggling to reveal the past, esp. the implications from the sea-change shift to agriculture. And it seemed to me that you too were affected by the uncertainty of its effect on humanity. Indeed, world views are riding in the balance of the outcome, whatever it turns out to be and however it might change in the process. However might I add the obvious thought that we might never know what it was that brought us to our present circumstance from Urfa or any of ancient man sites. The evolution of culture and societies is a much more difficult unknown to unravel, largely because they are products of the mind and we simply do not have the tools to detect these subtle but profound effects on the behavior of ancient societies. We largely rely on physical evidence, inference from our own experience, and intuition/ imagination to carry us to a conclusion, however fragile. We are in an explosive period in the study of biology, botany and brain science, and more importantly how they are connected. It will be truly fascinating to see their effects, if any, on deciphering ancient societies. And we surely need the writings of you and others whose observations are telling us to be steady and careful, humble and open, balanced.

    Thank you, once again,

    Dean Kastel

  102. Dave Lull Says:

    Coming up January 20, NBCC and Bookforum at Center for Fiction: “Criticism Beside Itself”

    by Jane Ciabattari | Jan-06-2012

    Friday, January 20 7 pm.

    “Criticism Beside Itself”
    Center For Fiction
    17 E. 47th St. • 212.755.6710
    Cosponsored by Bookforum and the National Book Critics Circle

    What is the proper genre of critical writing? How does criticism inform, inflect, and even colonize other forms of writing like biography, nonfiction, literary journalism, and fiction? Join us for a lively discussion of criticism today, with panelists Elif Batuman (a 2010 NBCC finalist in criticism for her collection The Possessed), novelist and critic Rivka Galchen (Atmospheric Disturbances), and critic and NBCC board member Mark Athitakis, with hosts Michael Miller of Bookforum and NBCC president Eric Banks. Cosponsored by Bookforum and the National Book Critics Circle.

    [. . .]

    Elif Batuman (above right) is writer-in-residence at Koç University in Istanbul. Her first book, The Possessed, was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and a runner-up for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award (for upholding the dignity of the essay form!). It was also longlisted for the 2011 Guardian First Book Award. The Possessed did not actually win any of these awards. Nonetheless, it has been translated into several languages. Elif sometimes writes for magazines.

    [. . .]

  103. Dave Lull Says:

    Robert Fay: Batuman’s Take Down of MFA Literary Fiction

  104. Dave Lull Says:

    Books –
    John Jeremiah Sullivan’s shift from first to third

    The author wants to dump the voice that made him famous
    by Richard Warnica on Friday, February 24, 2012 8:50am

    [. . .]

    In some ways, Sullivan is not unlike his fellow GQ writer George Saunders—whose 2007 collection The Braindead Megaphone had a similar mix of stranger-in-a-strange-world reported essays. Along with other writers like Elif Batuman, they’re forming a new breed of American essayists. In the tradition of Norman Mailer, Joan Didion and David Foster Wallace, they write deeply observational and distinctively first-person work. But there’s also an interesting sense of insecure irony to each of them.

    [. . .]

  105. Dave Lull Says:

    Inside the List
    Published: March 30, 2012

    HELP, THANKS, WOW: There was a time, three or four years ago, when it seemed every novelist had a blog, and why not? Blogging gave writers another way to reach readers, to promote their work or air their grievances or test their ideas in mini-essays that played to their strengths. But technology evolves, and despite some notable holdouts (Elif Batuman is one) Twitter has killed the blogging star. Now writers connect with their publics in 140 characters or fewer. The medium especially favors authors with distinct voices, preferably funny ones, who can toss off pithy observations or one-liners — authors like Anne Lamott, say [. . .]

  106. Dave Lull Says:

    radio The Voice of Russia
    Russian BookWorld → “The Possessed” by Elif Batuman
    Konstantin Boulich
    Apr 1, 2012 14:57 Moscow Time

    “The Possessed” by Elif Batuman is many books in one: it is a kind of memoir, a tribute to Russian literature, a travelogue, a collection of very entertaining anecdotes, a primer in literary theory and most of all a love letter to reading and living through literature. We talk to Elif Batuman herself who is currently a writer in residence at Koç University in Istanbul as well as to Andrew Roth, a cultural commentator and a host of ‘Culture Room’ here on the Voice of Russia. Among other things we discuss if our treatment of serious literature is sometimes too serious and what happens when it is not!

  107. Dave Lull Says:

    The Rumpus Interview with Elif Batuman
    Sean Carman · April 25th, 2012

  108. Dave Lull Says:

    10 Contemporary American Essayists You Should Be Reading Right Now
    by Emily Temple.

  109. Dave Lull Says:

    Culture Desk
    Notes on arts and entertainment from the staff of The New Yorker

    May 2, 2012
    The Phantom Matzo Factory
    Posted by Elif Batuman

  110. Dave Lull Says:

    (Photo of Israeli matzohs for sale in a Sisli grocery store, April 15, 2012; Laura Rozen)

  111. Dave Lull Says:

    Dawn of Creation
    ‘Magic Hours,’ Essays by Tom Bissell
    Published: May 4, 2012

    [. . .] I see a robust demand for, and supply of, long-form “magazine writing.” And in just the last few years, a cohort of younger writers including Elif Batuman, Wells Tower, Sam Anderson and John Jeremiah Sullivan has emerged to put its distinctive stamp on the genre. I’m tempted to call the result — with apologies to Tom Wolfe, Robert Boynton and anti-­taxonomists everywhere — the New New New Journalism.

    [. . .]

  112. Dave Lull Says:

    Slate Book Review
    The Critic as Memoirist
    Jonathan Lethem’s new book on Talking Heads is the latest entry in an exciting new hybrid form.

    By Mark O’Connell|Posted Friday, May 4, 2012, at 2:05 PM ET

    [. . .]

    More recently, Elif Batuman’s memoir, The Possessed, about her years as a graduate student in Russian literature at Stanford, demonstrated the grace with which writing about literature and writing about a life devoted to it can be part of a single enterprise. Batuman is a gifted critic, but her book is charged with her own anxious determination to be more than that. She seems to vacillate between not wanting to be an academic and not wanting to belong to any culture of “creative writing,” but it’s a productive kind of vacillation. “For many years,” she writes, “I gave little thought to the choice I had made between creative writing and literary criticism.” This might well be because she hasn’t really made any such choice. She never says so straightforwardly, but she doesn’t have to; her writing itself is evidence of the fact that she has chosen neither (or both). She’s not a critic writing “creatively” in the classic gamekeeper-turned-poacher mode; or rather, she’s combined gamekeeping and poaching into a single activity. The book is at its most interesting when she delegates the ordinary business of literary criticism to the memoirist side of her authorial identity. In one particular scene in which Batuman discusses Anna Karenina in the kitchen with her mother, what we get is not simply an account of two people talking about a book but an incidental, ad hoc critical reading of that book:

    I said that I thought Vronsky had really loved Anna.
    “He couldn’t have loved her enough, or she wouldn’t have killed herself. It just wouldn’t have happened.” My mother’s theory was that the double plot of Anna Karenina represents the two kinds of men in the world: those who really like women, and those who don’t. Vronsky, a man who really liked women, overwhelmed Anna and was overwhelmed by her–but some part of him was never committed to her in the way that Levin, a man who essentially did not like women, was committed to Kitty.

    [. . .]

  113. Dave Lull Says:

    London Review of Books
    Vol. 34 No. 11 · 7 June 2012
    pages 38-39 | 4470 words

    Elif Batuman

  114. Dave Lull Says:

    War and Peace ebook readers find a surprise in its Nooks
    A ’search and replace’ by Barnes & Noble switched every mention of ‘kindle’ with the name of the company’s ereader, ‘Nook’. What ebook mishaps have you come across?
    Posted by Hermione Hoby
    Thursday 7 June 2012 04.11 EDT

    [. . .]

    We could bewail the desecration of a canonical work, but Elif Batuman, whose adventures as a graduate student of Russian literature are detailed in her delightful first book, The Possessed, reckons her favourite author would have seen the funny side. She says: “Often we think of the bearded 19th-century greats as having somehow predated technology and its vicissitudes, but when you go back and look at the books, so much of it is there already. Tolstoy was really attuned to the distorting potentialities of the latest advances in telecommunication, which was, in his time, the telegraph.”

    She goes on to point out that in Anna Karenina, it’s a misspelled telegram that announces her heroine’s first appearance and later, a misinterpreted telegram from Vronsky that prompts her suicide: “Anna’s life story is beaten, formed and malformed by the pressures of her time. So there’s something fitting about Tolstoy’s own novels getting malformed by technologies, albeit of a kind he couldn’t have imagined.”

    Up until now I’ve thought of ebooks as having a kind of inviolability – unlike their physical equivalents, they can’t have their margins scribbled in or their pages turned over – but the “War and Nookd” case is a reminder that electronic texts are fungible and our technologies fallible. And maybe this isn’t as deleterious as the ebook refuseniks would have as believe. Maybe, in fact, the absurdities thrown up by this can actually illuminate the way we read and deepen our relationship to a book. It’s useful to be reminded that we are in fact, smarter than computers.

    Batuman admits that, for her, one happy upshot of the whole affair has been the way it’s thrown into relief Tolstoy’s use of the word “kindle”: “sometimes literally (a lot of fires set in that book), sometimes metaphorically, in eyes and faces. It’s kind of great to have one’s attention drawn to the shared connotation of lighting something up from within.”

  115. Dave Lull Says:

    Monday, June 11, 2012
    “The bathtub was still there, but the cat wasn’t.”
    By Nicole Cliffe @ 9:45 am

    Doesn’t “Elif Batuman and the Museum of Innocence” sound like a fantastic title for a magical-realism novel? Don’t miss this weird little gem in her London Review of Books diary.

    Comments / Post A Comment

    [. . .]

  116. Dave Lull Says:

    Indexing: The Fab Five, Oral History Love, Edith Wharton, Karen Russell in South Florida and More
    By Vol.1 Brooklyn On June 23, 2012

    A roundup of things consumed by our contributors.

    Tobias Carroll

    File under cognitive dissonance: sitting at a cafe in Vienna and reading a book that delves deeply into the failings of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. That was my experience with vacation reading book no.1, Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. It was, in fact, fantastic: layered and dense and occasionally funny and more frequently terrifying, given that West was writing this in the late 1930s, just before European history imploded. It’s an odd comparison, but hey, I’ll make with the handselling: the conversational tone and ability to allude to political and literary history should appeal to fans of Elif Batuman, while the historical density and sense of moral outrage suggests that the William T. Vollman fan in your life will appreciate this. And the Penguin edition has a terrific introduction from Christopher Hitchens that I’d suggest reading after the text; Hitchens provides some interesting historical context for some of the figures encountered by West, some of which left me stunned.

    [. . .]

  117. Dave Lull Says:

    William Giraldi interviews Christopher R. Beha
    Two Great Writers Talk about Writing
    June 12th, 2012

    [. . .]

    Beha: [. . .]

    Speaking of positive developments, there are some very good young critics out there who I expect will have a real impact on literary culture over the next decade or two. Of my own contemporaries, I’ll read Elif Batuman or Gideon Lewis-Kraus on just about anything, but especially on books. There are a number of young novelists who are also writing great criticism. I’d put you in that camp, Billy. Also Rivka Galchen and Joshua Cohen. And Zadie Smith, who started publishing at such an age that she seems to have been around forever, is still quite young, and she’s a wonderful critic.

    [. . .]

  118. Dave Lull Says:

    Ph.D. Candidate

  119. Dave Lull Says:

    “Banana Karenina” (a.k.a. Elif Batuman) weighs in on new Tolstoy film

  120. Dave Lull Says:

    The Throwback
    Lorin Stein has revitalized The Paris Review for the 21st Century in a way the magazine’s legendary founder George Plimpton would endorse: one night – and one cocktail – at a time
    by Guy Cimbalo photography Poppy de Villeneuve

    [. . .]

    We’re there to meet the writer Elif Batuman, in town from Turkey. It seems we’ve kept her waiting for some time; she has been made the unwilling object of affection by some lecherous man at the bar. Batuman, if you didn’t know, is author of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, as well as writing several excellent pieces for The New Yorker in recent months.

    Sitting down, we discuss literary fandom, and the Guardian Literary Review’s “Bad Sex Awards.” The waitress confesses she’s very drunk. She takes our order two, possibly three, times. Batuman does not seem to appreciate my joke about “talking Turkey.” Batuman observes that every one of her author photographs looks as if she’s just seen a vision of the Virgin Mary. It’s beginning to feel like a Plimptonian fantasy of a literati dinner do.

    [. . .]

    Batuman and I discover that we were in college together. She’s a year younger than I am. Predictably I find this troubling but somehow I don’t begrudge her success. This is unusual. Admittedly, I’m drunk, but still, this night is far friendlier and far more fun than I expected.

    [. . .]

  121. Dave Lull Says:

    Sept/Oct/Nov 2012
    Viewer Discretion
    The trajectory of writer-worrier David Foster Wallace
    Gideon Lewis-Kraus

    [. . .]

    What does it mean—for art, for well-being—to write for approval? This question was at the center of Wallace’s whole literary-anxiety complex: All of his pet worries were modes of wondering what, and whom, writing was for. When he wasn’t worrying about the traps of self-consciousness, solipsism, and radical skepticism, he was worrying about irony, slickness, or seduction. He could probably be described as the great writer-worrier of his time, and he taught a generation of essayist-reporters—those who practice what John Jeremiah Sullivan called, in a slyly patricidal piece about The Pale King for GQ, “magazine writing”—what we ought to be worrying about. Disproportionate anxiety is what differentiates magazine writing from “magazine writing,” consummate professionals such as David Grann and Katherine Boo from faux [sic] amateurs such as John Sullivan and Elif Batuman: Where the former just get on with the task at hand, the latter fret about how it’s even possible to do so.

    [. . .]

  122. Dave Lull Says:

    Avoidance and Penalty
    By SeaWrite Media November 9, 2012
    Distraction and the Art of Dodging the Page
    By Elizabeth Cutright
    © 2012 The Daily Creative Writer

    [. . .]

    First – courtesy Galley Cat once again – the writers that have come before advocate embracing failure.

    [. . .]

    Elif BatumanPart of failure involves bad writing – so embrace your grammatically (and thematically) challenged prose. As writer says, “My advice is keep writing. No time you spend writing will be wasted—even if you write something that’s bad. Everyone has a certain amount of bad writing to get out of their system. It’s important not to censor yourself and not to get upset or demoralized when you write bad stuff.”

    [. . .]

  123. Dave Lull Says:

    Paris Review
    From the Proceedings of the First Annual Norwegian-American Literary Festival


    John mentioned false starts. Elif, do you make fewer of those, as you gain experience? Why does a writer make false starts in the first place?


    I wish I knew. My editor at The New Yorker was like, Why don’t you just skip the whole part where you do all the wrong things and just do the right thing?

    [. . .]

    To read the [all] of this piece, purchase the issue.

  124. Dave Lull Says:

    “A timely, topical, readable, and thought-provoking look at the history and legacy of double-entry bookkeeping.”—Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed

  125. Dave Lull Says:

    2013: the year ahead in books

    From a full programme of film and stage adaptations to a new James Bond novel, unpublished works by RS Thomas and WG Sebald and a new prize for women writers, 2013 is set to be a real page-turner

    The Guardian, Friday 4 January 2013 17.55 EST


    [. . .]

    24th The finalists for the fifth Man Booker International prize will be announced at the Jaipur festival. Philip Roth’s victory last time was preceded by a resignation from the judging panel and followed by much recrimination. Will this year’s jury chaired by Christopher Ricks and comprising Elif Batuman, Aminatta Forna, Yiyun Li and Tim Parks be more collegiate?

    [. . .]

  126. Dave Lull Says:

    Metalist: List of book lists
    By Jacob Siefring on January 9, 2013

    [. . .]

    Literary critic Elif Batuman’s Russian favorites

    In interview with Michael Silverblatt, Batuman named these Russian masterpieces the must-reads.

    Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

    Pushkin, Eugene Ogenin

    Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

    Isaac Babel, Cavalry Cycle

    Chekhov, Uncle Vanya and The Cherry Orchard

    Gogol, Dead Souls

    Goncharov, Oblomov

    Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

    Platonov, The Foundation Pit or Soul

    Belei, Petersburg

    [. . .]

  127. Dave Lull Says:

    The adventures of a reader: Encounters with Elif Batuman

    The Turkish-American author on Pamuk, Tolstoy and maintaining a balance between reading and living

    Somak Ghoshal

    First Published: Fri, Jan 25 2013. 04 33 PM IST

  128. Dave Lull Says:

    Vladimir Sorokin shortlisted for Man Booker Prize
    January 28, 2013 Alexandra Guzeva, Combined report

    [. . .]

    According to Izvestia, Vladimir Sorokin’s chances of winning the Prize may be slightly increased by the fact that Elif Batuman, a specialist in Russian literature and the author of “The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them,” is also on the jury.

    [. . .]

  129. Dave Lull Says:

    Bad manners and Bhabha

    Monday, 28 January 2013 23:40

    [. . .]

    The Padma Bhushan awardee slighted writer Elif Batuman . . . .

    [. . .]

  130. Dave Lull Says:

    Writer Batuman named on Booker International jury

    ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News–booker-international-jury.aspx?pageID=238&nID=40068&NewsCatID=386

  131. Dave Lull Says:

    The Picador Book Room · David Gutowski of Largehearted Boy stopped by…

  132. Dave Lull Says:

    2/24/13 at 9:20 PM

    Literary Caucus: Salman Rushdie, James Franco, and 28 More Notables Assess Philip Roth’s Career

    Participants: Steven Amsterdam, Sam Anderson, Rosecrans Baldwin, Elif Batuman [. . .]
    *This article originally appeared in the March 4, 2013 issue of New York Magazine.
    [. . .]
    Oh my god, just when I was starting to recover from the nasty feeling Seth MacFarland left on me, there’s this.

    I don’t know which if [sic] these facts makes me grouchier: of 28 “notables,” 23 are not-women; of the remaining five, one is Katie Roiphe; Elif Batuman is not quoted; what the f*** Keith Gessen said; what the f*** geiko_dom said.
    [. . .]

  133. Dave Lull Says:

    Reader’s writer – The Hindu

    Rajni George

    A conversation with Elif Batuman, whose memoir takes us into the literary dreamlands of yesteryear Russia.

  134. Dave Lull Says:

    BBC World Service

    Novelist Elif Batuman talks about the protests in Turkey

    Elif Batuman is a Turkish-American novelist living in Istanbul. Pascale Harter spoke to her after a walk around Taksim Park today.

  135. Dave Lull Says:

    The Writing Lives Series
    Reading with Elif Batuman
    Thursday, February 6, 2014 6:15pm Location TBA

    School of the Arts
    Heyman Center for the Humanities

    Elif Batuman

    Author and New Yorker Magazine staff writer Elif Batuman will read from her work. Discussion and a Q&A with the author will follow.

  136. Dave Lull Says:

    NYC – Little Failure Event (with Elif Batuman) | Facebook
    THIS WILL BE LIKE THE CRIMEAN WAR BUT WITH MORE JEWS. Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y. 1395 Lexington Avenue, New York, …

  137. Dave Lull Says:

    Elif Batuman | Creative Writing Lecture Series

    Date:From 05-Feb-14 7:00 pm through 9:00 pm
    Location:Dodge Hall, Rm. 501

    Elif Batuman
    Wed, Feb 5, 7 PM
    Dodge Hall, Rm 501

    Elif Batuman is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, which was a finalist for a 2010 National Book Critic Circle’s Award.

    This talk is co-sponsored by The Heyman Center for Humanities.

  138. Dave Lull Says:

    Video of “[t]wo blockbuster authors, Elif Batuman and Gary Shteyngart, critically lauded for their wit and craftsmanship, take the stage together in one sensational night! Join us as they read from their new books.”

  139. Dave Lull Says:

    Creative Writing Lecture: Elif Batuman | Catch & Release

    February 9, 2014 · by catchandreleaseblog · in Community, Fiction, Nonfiction. ·

    Comment by E.B. Bartels

    Creative Writing Lecture: Elif Batuman
    Columbia University Graduate Writing Program
    Wednesday, February 5, 2013, 7pm at Dodge Hall 501

    Advice I Got From Elif Batuman, My New Favorite Person

  140. Dave Lull Says:

    Video: Elif Batuman Explains a Hit Turkish Television Show : The New Yorker

  141. Dave Lull Says:

    Writer Elif Batuman speaks at Downey House

    Piers says: “I am tripping over myself with excitement because this Friday, May 2nd, the writer Elif Batuman will be on campus for a Writing Programs-sponsored reading.”

  142. Dave Lull Says:

    Bookworm – KCRW
    Favorite Books: John Waters and Elif Batuman
    Role Models (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and The Possessed (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
    John Waters’ gives a passionate description of his favorite books, and for good measure, Elif Batuman gives a lively count-down of her favorite Russian novels.

  143. Dave Lull Says:

    Platform for Pedagogy
    Emily Gould and Elif Batuman. Thursday 10 July, 2014 7pm, $0. McNally Jackson 52 Prince Street.

  144. Dave Lull Says:

    Emily Gould Talks Friendship With Elif Batuman

  145. Dave Lull Says:

    A Reading from Happiness: Ten Years of n+1
    Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm
    Wollman Hall, Eugene Lang College
    65 West 11th Street Room B500, New York, NY 10003
    A Reading from Happiness: Ten Years of n+1

    Readings and discussion by Elif Batuman, Keith Gessen, Mark Greif, and Kristin Dombek.

    Elif Batuman’s The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them was published in 2010. From 2010–2013, Elif was Writer in Residence at Koc University in Istanbul, where she taught a nonfiction writing workshop. She is currently a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.

    [. . .]

  146. Dave Lull Says:

    New Yorker Festival

    Hit the Road

    Travel writing.

    Moderated by PHILIP GOUREVITCH.

  147. Dave Lull Says:

    27 Writers on Whether or Not to Get Your MFA
    By Elisabeth Donnelly on Sep 10, 2014 9:15am

  148. Dave Lull Says:

    September 15, 2014
    Happiness reading at BookCourt

    Happiness: Ten Years of n+1, the first American anthology of the magazine’s best work, is out from Faber and Faber on September 10. Help us celebrate a decade of n+1 with readings and drinks at BookCourt. Part of the Brooklyn Book Festival 2014. Sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery.
    Monday, September 15
    BookCourt, 7PM
    163 Court Street, Brooklyn
    RSVP on Facebook.

  149. Dave Lull Says:

    Brooklyn Book Festival.
    21st Century Narrators presented by the London Review of Books

    North Stage
    Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014

    LRB contributors Elif Batuman (The Possesed), Ben Lerner (10:04), Harper’s Magazine columnist Christine Smallwood and Lorin Stein (ed. Paris Review) talk about new types of narration. How you rate a narrator usually amounts to how you rate a novel. Reliable or otherwise, their tellings reveal a lot about our times. Has time and telling changed in the last 15 technology-addled years, or are the trends of narration the same as they’ve always been? Moderated by LRB senior editor Christian Lorentzen.

  150. Dave Lull Says:



    Moderated by PHILIP GOUREVITCH.

    2 p.m.
    October 12
    90 MINUTES

  151. Dave Lull Says:

    “Moby-Dick” Marathon

    The second biennial New York City three-day marathon-style reading of Herman Melville’s masterpiece, Moby-Dick, Or, The Whale in New York City will take place November 14, 15, and 16, 2014: on Friday, November 14 at Ace Hotel New York, on Saturday, November 15 at the South Street Seaport Museum, and on Sunday, November 16 at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe. MDMNYC 2014 is organized by Amanda Bullock, Polly Duff Kertis, and Molly Rose Quinn.

    [. . .]

    South Street Seaport Museum
    Chapters 31-99
    10AM to 11PM

    [. . .]

    Sam MacLaughlin
    Elif Batuman
    Jacob Perkins
    A.N. Devers
    Paul W. Morris
    Dolan Morgan

    [. . .]

  152. Dave Lull Says:

    The Best Books of 2014
    By The New Yorker

    [. . .]

    Savvy New Yorker readers! You don’t need me to tell you that Gary Shtenyngart’s memoir, “Little Failure,” will leave you with tears streaming down your face from every emotion known to the human heart, or that Haruki Murakami’s new novel, “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage,” is about a billion times better than the title sounds in English. Were Donald Antrim’s “An Emerald Light in the Air” and Ben Lerner’s “10:04” as witty, brilliant, and form-illuminating as admirers of these authors’ earlier work could hope? Yes, they were! Did Jenny Offill’s “Dept. of Speculation” simultaneously live up to the Renata Adler comparisons and create something new? Yes, incredibly, it did! And I know I’m not the only one out there who goes to bed every night praying that Elena Ferrante (“Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay”) and Karl Ove Knausgaard (“My Struggle: Book Three”) will have new serialized novels for us every year, each longer and more hypnotic than the one before, full of things we never knew about writers called Elena and Karl Ove. Lastly, for those of you who are thinking, “But all those books got terrific reviews—tell me something I don’t already know!,” here’s one that flew below the radar: Avi Steinberg’s “The Lost Book of Mormon,” a truly weird and beautiful memoir about an insane-sounding guy who retraces the geographical territory of the “Book of Mormon” in order to prove that it, the “Book of Mormon,” is the Great American Novel. If you need America to be reënchanted for you this year—and, let’s face it, who doesn’t?—pick this one up; you won’t regret it.

    —Elif Batuman

    [. . .]

  153. Dave Lull Says:


  154. Dave Lull Says:

    EVENT | MARCH 09, 2015
    Tyler S. Bugg
    The Age of Exhaustion : Can Our Old Ideas Make Sense of a New World?

    [. . .]


    [. . .]

    Elif Bautman
    Staff writer, The New Yorker
    Author, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and Those Who Read Them

    [. . .]


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