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The Idiot Audiobook

The Idiot

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Publisher's Summary

A portrait of the artist as a young woman. A novel about not just discovering but inventing oneself.

The year is 1995, and email is new. Selin, the daughter of Turkish immigrants, arrives for her freshman year at Harvard. She signs up for classes in subjects she has never heard of, befriends her charismatic and worldly Serbian classmate, Svetlana, and, almost by accident, begins corresponding with Ivan, an older mathematics student from Hungary. Selin may have barely spoken to Ivan, but with each email they exchange, the act of writing seems to take on new and increasingly mysterious meanings.

At the end of the school year, Ivan goes to Budapest for the summer, and Selin heads to the Hungarian countryside, to teach English in a program run by one of Ivan's friends. On the way she spends two weeks visiting Paris with Svetlana. Selin's summer in Europe does not resonate with anything she has previously heard about the typical experiences of American college students or indeed of any other kinds of people. For Selin this is a journey further inside herself: a coming to grips with the ineffable and exhilarating confusion of first love and with the growing consciousness that she is doomed to become a writer.

With superlative emotional and intellectual sensitivity, mordant wit, and pitch-perfect style, Batuman dramatizes the uncertainty of life on the cusp of adulthood. Her prose is a rare and inimitable combination of tenderness and wisdom, its logic as natural and inscrutable as that of memory itself. The Idiot is a heroic yet self-effacing reckoning with the terror and joy of becoming a person in a world that is as intoxicating as it is disquieting. Batuman's fiction is unguarded against both life's affronts and its beauty - and has at its command the complete range of thinking and feeling that they entail.

©2017 Elif Batuman (P)2017 Penguin Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (123 )
5 star
 (40)
4 star
 (35)
3 star
 (25)
2 star
 (16)
1 star
 (7)
Overall
3.7 (114 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
 (11)
1 star
 (9)
Story
3.8 (113 )
5 star
 (52)
4 star
 (23)
3 star
 (17)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (14)
Performance
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  •  
    Ian Jobling Oakton, VA USA 05-19-17
    Ian Jobling Oakton, VA USA 05-19-17 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    25
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    "Captures the strangeness of being"

    This account of a young woman's first year at Harvard and summer trip to Hungary captures the random directionlessness of life and of the mind and also the human foreignness to language. Batuman captures the feeling that words are incapable of describing our experience and that no one even begins to understand this problem. If you're looking for the kind of "twisty plot" that is so common these days, you will be disappointed. But if you are ready for a new dimension of existence to be revealed to you, this is the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-21-17 Member Since 2013

    Deep, thoughtful, literary fiction—old, new, sci-fi, whatever—is my thing.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
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    94
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    Story
    "Fascinating point of view"

    The author's voice and experiences are interestingly objective - intelligent, restrained and artifice- free. If you require a plot-driven story, this isn't the one for you. If, though, you'd like to get out of your head and into the author's, then dive on in!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lengthy 07-04-17
    Lengthy 07-04-17 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    36
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    Story
    "Disappointing narration"
    What disappointed you about The Idiot?

    The narrator is the author and she should stick to writing. Her flat narration ruined the book for me. It was like someone telling jokes who ruins a good punch line every time.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I think if I read it that it would be funny. Half way through the book I decided to read it instead of listening to the rest.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Elif Batuman?

    Anyone with more dramatic flair or sense of humor.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael 05-15-17
    Michael 05-15-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    11
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    "Flawless"

    It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a book this much for language, thought and tone alone. Thanks, Elif Batuman.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    05-07-17
    05-07-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    1
    1
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    "Mind numbingly boring"

    This book lacked any type of plot line. The book is essentially the diary of a bland loser in her first year at Harvard. In the end, she travels to a foreign county to teach English. Nothing happens. The end. What I wouldn't give to get back the time wasted listening to this book.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicole Schultheis 09-13-17
    ratings
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    4
    2
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    Story
    "Tightly woven narrative, story well told"

    Batuman's writing is like a fine pencil drawing. Her character's evolution is a narrow graphite arc. Her descriptions, in sync with her narrator, are mathematically precise. And yet the sense of longing - for love, for understanding, and for being a person of value - are as clear as can be. But poor Selin, I wanted to shake her! She was so distrustful of happiness, so unwilling to stake a claim. And I so wanted that to change.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Y. R 05-09-17
    Y. R 05-09-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    16
    2
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    "Most boring book ever"

    Elif is a competent and talented writer. Why the hell they published this book without editorial supervision???

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DB 07-22-17
    DB 07-22-17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    28
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Painful to get through"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Someone with a less flat presentation


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    The Japanese Lover


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    No redeeming qualities. I read it for a book club but it was painful to get through. Nothing happens, none of the characters are likeable or even interesting. A privileged Harvard freshman's angst about an online romance. It was like a bad romance novel. I guess we were supposed to feel something for her but if this is her tragedy or growth trajectory I certainly am not interested in hearing more.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer GRAND RAPIDS, MI, United States 06-30-17
    Amazon Customer GRAND RAPIDS, MI, United States 06-30-17 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    18
    14
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    "No point: Long, poorly narrated, properly written"

    Kept waiting for something to happen, it never did. Book about self discovery typically come to some sort of conclusion other than nothing. The author's narration was a poor choice,void of expressing emotion. So bland, I actually rechecked the details to determine if this was a book about an autistic young adult trying to adapt to her world. The only positives: No gratuitous sex, violence, or language, and great to fall asleep to.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sophia Portland, ME United States 06-18-17
    Sophia Portland, ME United States 06-18-17 Member Since 2014
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
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    Story
    "No"

    First time that I didn't finish a book. My bookclub tells me that I didn't miss anything. Nothing happened.
    The hardest part for me was listening to the author read the book. It was without inflection. I found myself trying to listen to it and not lasting very long. Very disappointing.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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