LIVE from the NYPL: Elif Batuman with Mary Karr: Playing the Fool

April 25, 2017

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Elif Batuman’s first novel, The Idiot, is as much a story of self-invention as it is one of self-discovery. Dramatizing life on the cusp between child- and adulthood, she cleverly takes her book’s title from Fyodor Dostoevsky, whose own Idiot, Prince Myshkin, is “a perfect child, and even quite pathetic.” Batuman’s main character, Selin, travels from her first year at Harvard to Paris and the Hungarian countryside, where, much as it proves for Myshkin, circumstances in these new places are beyond what anticipation or experience have prepared her to handle. Batuman will speak with fellow writer and admirer Mary Karr, author of The Liars' Club and Art of Memoir, who calls The Idiot, “the best novel I’ve read in years.”

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The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the speaker(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of The New York Public Library.