The Idiot

  • by Elif Batuman
  • Narrated by Elif Batuman
  • 13 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

It is September 1995. Selin, a Turkish-American college freshman from New Jersey, is about to embark on her first year at Harvard University, where she is determined to decipher the mysteries of language and to become a writer. In between studying psycho­linguistics and the philosophy of language, teaching ESL to a Costa Rican plumber, and befriending her classmate Svetlana (a Serbian refugee from Connecticut), Selin falls in love with a Hungarian maths student in her Russian class. She spends the summer in the Hungarian countryside teaching English to village children, where sad and comic misunderstandings ensue. Full of the razor-sharp evocations of character and place that have long delighted listeners, The Idiot tackles literary ambition, female friend­ship, the American dream, Chomskian linguistics, the Russian novel and romantic love.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A rather juvenile romp

As the title suggests, Elif Batuman's novel explores linguistics and Russian literature through the eyes of a young Harvard undergraduate, Selin. The character falls in love with an older, neurotic Hungarian mathematics student, and travels to his country to be near him. It is occasionally humorous, and describes a rite of passage - but no more than that. Unfortunately, at times it is rather banal and tedious.

While Batuman's writing is to be desired, the content fell short as the narrative varies between sharp and rambling. The naivety of Selin also appears slightly unbelievable, and would probably be better geared at a younger audience.
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- Suswati

Falls flat

The narration is a bit dry making it hard to know if things are meant to be funny or not. I downloaded it as it was the "editors pick" and it turned out to be a struggle to finish.
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- Maaike

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-06-2017
  • Publisher: Audible Studios