Elif Batuman, a New Yorker staff writer and author of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, offers up a delightfully refreshing coming-of-age story about not just discovering but inventing oneself. Batuman’s debut novel The Idiot begins in 1995 when email is new and Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard where she navigates the strange new worlds of academics, friendships, and falling in love via email. Batuman discusses this off-kilter journey into adulthood and her recent reporting for The New Yorker from Turkey, with comedic author, television writer, and co-host of The Great Debates podcast Steve Hely.
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Elif Batuman has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2010. She is the author of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them. The recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and a Paris Review Terry Southern Prize for Humor, she also holds a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford University.
Steve Hely is a writer and TV writer. He wrote the novel How I Became A Famous Novelist, and co-wrote the comic travelogue The Ridiculous Race. His latest book is The Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles To The End of the World. He wrote for The Late Show with David Letterman, 30 Rock, The Office, American Dad and Veep. He’s a co-host of The Great Debates radio show.