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The Possessed
The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them | Elif Batuman
One of The Economist's 2011 Books of the Year THE TRUE BUT UNLIKELY STORIES OF LIVES DEVOTEDABSURDLY! MELANCHOLICALLY! BEAUTIFULLY!TO THE RUSSIAN CLASSICSNo one who read Elif Batuman's first article (in the journal n+1) will ever forget it. "Babel in California" told the true story of various human destinies intersecting at Stanford University during a conference about the enigmatic writer Isaac Babel. Over the course of several pages, Batuman managed to misplace Babel's last living relatives at the San Francisco airport, uncover Babel's secret influence on the making of King Kong, and introduce her readers to a new voice that was unpredictable, comic, humane, ironic, charming, poignant, and completely, unpretentiously full of love for literature. Batuman's subsequent piecesfor The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, and the London Review of Books have made her one of the most sought-after and admired writers of her generation, and its best traveling companion. In The Possessed we watch her investigate a possible murder at Tolstoy's ancestral estate. We go with her to Stanford, Switzerland, and St. Petersburg; retrace Pushkin's wanderings in the Caucasus; learn why Old Uzbek has one hundred different words for crying; and see an eighteenth-century ice palace reconstructed on the Neva. Love and the novel, the individual in history, the existential plight of the graduate student: all find their place in The Possessed. Literally and metaphorically following the footsteps of her favorite authors, Batuman searches for the answers to the big questions in the details of lived experience, combining fresh readings of the great Russians, from Pushkin to Platonov, with the sad and funny stories of the lives they continue to influenceincluding her own.
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batsy
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Found on twitter. Can't not love Russian novels 😂

LeahBergen I‘m having a Crime and Punishment flashback. 😂 1mo
BiblioLitten 🤣🤣 1mo
Reviewsbylola 😂😂😂 1mo
See All 12 Comments
twohectobooks Bahahaha this is so perfect 1mo
readordierachel Omg 😂😂 1mo
vivastory @LeahBergen Same 😂😂 1mo
Cathythoughts 👍🏻❤️ 1mo
BookieBiker 🤣 love Russian literature yet so so true! 1mo
Theaelizabet Perfect!🤣 1mo
ravenlee This might be the shortest, most accurate summary I‘ve ever seen! 1mo
Centique I can‘t see a Russian novel without thinking of you now! 😍👍 1mo
batsy @Centique You know me too well, this is the nicest compliment 😁❤️ 1mo
90 likes12 comments
review
Emilymdxn
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Pickpick

I loved this book tho I see why it‘s divided opinions. Part literary criticism of Russian and Uzbek literature, part funny memoir about travel and postgrad study, it maybe has quite narrow appeal but I learned SO much and am really inspired to go read some more Russian literature now. I can see how some things here were developed into The Idiot, which was one of my fave novels last year.

#tbrread #wintergames #merryreaders @Clwojick @StayCurious

Clwojick 16pt 2mo
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Emilymdxn
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Difficult day team. I had the day off work, turned my phone on after cinema to messages asking where I was after a shooting near my work. I wasn‘t anywhere nearby, and as far as I know no one from my work was in the immediate area it happened, so it could have been a lot worse but I‘m still feeling a bit shaken. Never thought I‘d use my work WhatsApp to check on everyone‘s safety. Feeling a bit shaken even tho I wasn‘t even close to any danger.

LiteraryinLititz Oh no, that‘s horrible. I‘m so glad you and your friends are ok, but of course it‘s such a scary and surreal feeling. Be kind to yourself as you get your feet under you again. 💜 2mo
Emilymdxn @LiteraryinLititz it‘s really shit, I‘ve always believed and still do that London is a wonderful safe city - I‘ve never felt unsafe walking alone at night anywhere and the area the incident happened is so lovely and one I know so well, it‘s quite easy for British people to read foreign news about attacks and go ‘that doesn‘t happen here‘ and then it‘s such a shock when it does. 2mo
TheSpineView That's terrible! Glad that you OK. 2mo
See All 13 Comments
LiteraryinLititz @Emilymdxn Of course. I actually just got home last night from spending my honeymoon in England. We were at that exact spot on Tuesday. London was a wonderful place to visit and I am sending all my love to those of you who are living there and feeling shaken right now. 2mo
Emilymdxn @TheSpineView @LiteraryinLititz thank you very much both - and I hope your honeymoon was fantastic! 2mo
TrishB Was in London today and will be again tomorrow! It‘s always a worry. Glad you‘re safe ❤️ 2mo
youneverarrived It‘s so awful. Glad you‘re ok 💛 2mo
BarbaraBB Sounds scary! Glad you‘re safe! 2mo
OnlyYoo Happy you‘re safe! Make sure to take care of yourself and I‘m always free to talk if you need it! 😊 2mo
xicanti Oh crap. I‘m glad you‘re okay. 2mo
CarolynM How horrible for you. Glad to hear you and your colleagues are safe. Take care. 2mo
Kalalalatja So glad you are safe! 2mo
NovelGirl82 I‘m so sorry. I‘m glad that you‘re safe and that you‘re colleagues are safe. Take care of you. 2mo
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Emilymdxn
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Payday = expensive bougie salad I can‘t afford and reading in the cafe over lunch 🥰🥰🥰 won‘t be able to treat myself like this many days in the run up to Christmas but it was lovely and luxurious today! Back to soup and leftovers at my desk tomorrow

marleed Oh enjoy! I just googled a bougie salad - sounds great! 2mo
65 likes1 comment
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Emilymdxn
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Snatching a few mins to read before I go celebrate a friend‘s birthday! It has a low litsy rating which I think is partly because it‘s marketed and promoted as a different kind of book than it is - it goes quite hardcore on literary criticism and is less of a memoir than the blurb wants you to think but if you want some theory combined with some memoir and some cultural criticism it‘s fantastic!

#24b4monday @Andrew65 @jb72 @TheReadingMermaid

Andrew65 Hope you enjoy it and the birthday celebrations. 😊 2mo
batsy I loved this! 2mo
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review
jdenslow
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Mehso-so

Batuman's book has a promising beginning, an introduction that made me laugh out loud. The rest of the book doesn't live up to the intro. The bulk of the story is about Elif's sojourns abroad and deep, thoughtful analysis of Russian and Uzbek literature. The title should have warned me, I guess, but I think the introduction foreshadowed a lighter read. The last sentences of the book, above, do reaffirm Batuman's belief in the power of literature.

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jdenslow
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jdenslow
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Even just a few pages in, I think the yellow cover does the best job of communicating the tone of this very funny memoir of grad school. #judgingabookbyitscover #bookcover

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gileilsel
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Pretty tough to go through so far. But it talks about graduate school life for a Humanities major, so I'm hoping to pick up some inspiration and tips.

TheAnitaAlvarez This looks great! And I‘m a Russian lit lover, so I‘ll definitely give it a read too 2y
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karenna
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Day 2 #RiotGrams--yellow covers

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Betty_Bookworm
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Pickpick

When I picked this up earlier today and started it, I was not expecting to laugh so hard. Seriously. Tears of laughter. I love her and can't wait to read her novel.

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rebuketodali
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Fuck yeah Elif Batuman!

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