Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. The introduction had more theoretical word games than I would feel comfortable using now. Selin is honest and without guile. It seems like cheating to her for the conversation instead to be, do we classify historical reenactment as fiction or non-fiction? Do not be ashamed to grieve about personal things.

Another popular technique for waylaying the reader is the use of specificity as a shortcut to nostalgia—as if all a writer has to do is mention Little League or someone called Bucky McGee, and our shared American past will do the rest of the work. Interview with Elif Batuman. Can you talk about the pacing? For years, Lorrie Moore has only written about cancer. Literature is only an art.

The turns in the plot are often achieved unsatisfyingly, by dreams, or by a character deciding to sit in the bottom of a well; the narrators receive an inordinate amount of oral sex from bizarrely dressed middle-aged women.

elif batuman essay

Fifteen or so years later, she was having difficulty with a novel about her life after The Possessedand kept being drawn to flashbacks to a more innocent time. We take every chance utterance that people make as essential statements about who and what they are, so we live surrounded by gods and by monsters.

Elif Batuman on Fictionalizing Her Life, and Learning to Fact Check | Literary Hub

You are in this interesting space. Would Pushkin have managed to inspire anybody at all had he written: Selin begins an email relationship with Ivan, a Hungarian maths major who is in her Russian class.

And the big kind of discovery that they have in various ways is that the most successful and fortunate and happy-seeming people are actually really miserable and constantly seeing themselves as lacking.


And she has now produced her first novel, The Idiot batumwn, centred on Selin, a Turkish-American woman, who, inbegins her first year at Harvard; she is in love with fiction and already determined to become a writer ….

The reader is so sure that certain things are going to happen… everyone is sure that Anna is going to die in childbirth. Article continues after advertisement. MFAs want to learn how to tell a good story — e.

I batumah thinking about what to take out and what to leave in, and a big guiding principle to me was that if something was funny, if something really made me laugh when I reread it, then I almost always left it in. I remind Batuman of a comment she made a few years ago: Cancel reply Your email address will not be published.

Do you think Selin would be different if she were 18 in esswy of ? They write to each other by email, at that time a new technology possessing for Selin a mystery and romance that seems utterly impossible today. Why are novels fictional? Do you look back on your early writing and think that you would write differently?

To explain esswy literary strategy, Batuman went back to the Russians. Learn how your comment data is processed. When her essays were esszy with acclaim, she, almost by accident, became a nonfiction writer, and was taken up by the New Yorker.

How does Vollmann intend to be helpful, to save a life, to benefit someone?


She went on this and she kept a diary there and this diary was published. Latest Reviews Features Fiction Poetry.

Short Story & Novel | Issue 4 | n+1

What we should really regret is that we no longer possess the spontaneity. Furthermore, there was such a cohesive world that she described, and there was no room in it for anything else. Many of the Best American stories are set in prisons and psychiatric hospitals.

The novel is a fundamentally ironic form; hence its power of self-regeneration. What does that mean to you?

elif batuman essay

Selin herself has certain anxieties about seeming overly feminine. In the original draft it was quite different, there were a lot of flashbacks. Show 25 25 50 All.

Elif Batuman on Fictionalizing Her Life, and Learning to Fact Check

The character in the book was experiencing these same frustrations and she was trying to write a book that was going to tell the story of the two lives at once. Do not be ashamed to grieve about personal things. When she was 23, on leave batkman a PhD program, she had worked on a long, unpublished autobiographical novel of her freshman year at Harvard.

The second novel, to be called Swan Parkis in part about the secular-religious split in Turkey, where she lived between andand the political batumah of America. Well, maybe not always saying yes.