Selin, our narrator from Elif Batuman's first novel, The Idiot, returns in Either/Or, and I couldn't be happier! Either/Or captures the excitement and confusion of Selin's sophomore year at Harvard, as she attempts to find out what it means to live the life of an artist while also navigating complicated friendships, family drama, and new sexual experiences. Batuman's already solid reputation as an astute observer of the human condition will only be solidified by this hilariously accurate portrait of young adulthood in the mid-1990s. Recommended By Adam P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From the acclaimed and bestselling author of The Idiot, the continuation of beloved protagonist Selin's quest for self-knowledge, as she travels abroad and tests the limits of her newfound adulthood
Selin is the luckiest person in her family: the only one who was born in America and got to go to Harvard. Now it's sophomore year, 1996, and Selin knows she has to make it count. The first order of business: to figure out the meaning of everything that happened over the summer. Why did Selin's elusive crush, Ivan, find her that job in the Hungarian countryside? What was up with all those other people in the Hungarian countryside? Why is Ivan's weird ex-girlfriend now trying to get in touch with Selin? On the plus side, it feels like the plot of an exciting novel. On the other hand, why do so many novels have crazy abandoned women in them? How does one live a life as interesting as a novel — a life worthy of becoming a novel — without becoming a crazy abandoned woman oneself?
Guided by her literature syllabus and by her more worldly and confident peers, Selin reaches certain conclusions about the universal importance of parties, alcohol, and sex, and resolves to execute them in practice — no matter what the cost. Next on the list: international travel.
Unfolding with the propulsive logic and intensity of youth, Either/Or is a landmark novel by one of our most brilliant writers. Hilarious, revelatory, and unforgettable, its gripping narrative will confront you with searching questions that persist long after the last page.
"Effervescent...As accomplished as The Idiot was, this improves upon it, and Batuman's already sharp chops as a novelist come across as even more refined in these pages. Readers will be enraptured." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Insights that are revelatory, moving, and laugh-out-loud funny — sometimes all at once….Another delightfully cerebral and bighearted novel from a distinctive voice in contemporary fiction." Kirkus (Starred Review)
"Through it all, valiant Selin reads and ponders the human condition, culminating in a breath-catching ending that will leave spellbound readers hoping for more from Batuman's bright and witty adventurer of conscience." -- Booklist (Starred Review)
"Expect a master course in snappy social observation." TIME, "The 21 Most Anticipated Books of 2022"
"Batuman, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and New Yorker writer, brings delicious detail and light irony to her heroine's quest." Oprah Daily, "The 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2022"
"Batuman has an extremely keen sense for what makes characters engaging and renders it all in supernaturally observant and funny prose." AV Club, "The 15 most-anticipated books of 2022"
About the Author
Elif Batuman's first novel, The Idiot, was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, and was shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction in the UK. She is also the author of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, which was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. She has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2010 and holds a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford University.