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The Possessed draws on Elif Batuman’s articles in the New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and n+1 to tell the true story of one woman’s intellectual and sentimental education and her many strange encounters with scholars devoted to classic Russian writers.
In a series of intertwined essays about her life—and other people’s lives—in the world of Russian literature and scholarship, Batuman has written a funny, smart and self-deprecating book about Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Chekhov and the academics who worship them. It is full of stories of ice palaces and giant apes, conference disasters and excursions into Uzbek poetry; but there is also wisdom, and deep appreciation of the great Russian novels.
Elif Batuman is a true original.
Hilarious, wide-ranging, erudite, and, memorable, The Possessed is a sui generis feast for the mind and the fancy.
The Possessed dances between autobiography, travel-writing and literary criticism with dazzling flair and originality.