The Idiot by Elif Batuman

The Idiot

Elif Batuman

Deadpan and desultory, this is an unusual coming-of-age novel. A Turkish-American girl, baffled by language, first love and learning, tries to work out who she might become. Expect intense conversations about weighty topics, no plot and wry humour.

Extract

'Right,' I said, nodding energetically and trying to determine whether any of the rectangles in my peripheral vision was a box of tissues. Unfortunately, they were all books. The professor was talking about the differences between creative and academic writing. I kept nodding. I was thinking about the structural equivalences between a tissue box and a book: both consisted of slips of white paper in a cardboard case; yet - and this was ironic- there was very little functional equivalence, especially if the book wasn't yours. These were the kinds of things I thought about all the time, even though they were neither pleasant nor useful. I had no idea what you were supposed to be thinking about.

Parallels
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Books with similar mood

The Missing Shade of Blue

Jenny Erdal

The Deadman's Pedal

Alan Warner

Chinaman

Shehan Karunatilaka

The Last Samurai

Helen DeWitt

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Michael Chabon

The Illicit Happiness of Other People

Manu Joseph

Three Kingdoms

Luo Guanzhong

The Tragedy of Arthur

Arthur Phillips

Disaster Was My God: The Scandalous Outlaw Life of Arthur Rimbaud

Bruce Duffy

The Wonder

Diana Evans

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Marisha Pessl

Pynter Bender

Jacob Ross

You Have to be Careful in the Land of the Free

James Kelman

I, the Divine

Rabih Alameddine

The Bellini Madonna

Elizabeth Lowry

Queen of Dreams

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

How To Be Both

Ali Smith

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Claire North

Vertigo

Ahmed Mourad

Any Human Face

Charles Lambert

Half Blood Blues

Esi Edugyan

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan

The Collector of Worlds

Iliya Troyanov

The Dog of the Marriage

Amy Hempel

The Scholar

Courttia Newland

Miss Garnet's Angel

Salley Vickers

The Good Mayor

Andrew Nicoll

Helloland

Nick Walker

The Barbarian Nurseries

Hector Tobar

The Lost Dog

Michelle de Kretser

Vernon God Little

D B C Pierre

S O S

Joseph Connolly

Wizard of the Crow

Ngugi wa Thiong'o

The Explosion Chronicles

Yan Lianke

The Brilliant & Forever

Kevin MacNeil

Fair Helen

Andrew Greig

Aurorarama

Jean-Christophe Valtat

Our Tragic Universe

Scarlett Thomas

The Incredible Adam Spark

Alan Bissett

Making Love

Marius Brill

Lucky in Love

David Mourao-Ferreira

Brainstorm

Richard Dooling

Darkmans

Nicola Barker

Sandlands

Rosy Thornton

Weathering

Lucy Wood

A Book for All and None

Clare Morgan

Illustrado

Miguel Syjuco

The Great Perhaps

Joe Meno

East Winds, West Winds

Mahdi Issa al-Saqr