©2024 Fable Group Inc.
3.0 

The Possessed

By Elif Batuman
The Possessed by Elif Batuman digital book - Fable

Why read on Fable?

Discover social reading

Chat inside the ebook with emojis, comments and more

Annotate with notes, tabs, and highlights

Share or keep your notes private with our annotation features

Support the World Literacy Foundation

We donate 20% of every book sale to help children learn to read

Publisher Description

One of The Economist's 2011 Books of the Year

From the author of Either/Or and The Idiot, Elif Batuman’s The Possessed presents the true but unlikely stories of lives devoted—Absurdly! Melancholically! Beautifully!—to the Russian Classics.

No one who read 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 pieces—for 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 influence—including her own.

19 Reviews

3.0
Smiling Face with Heart-Eyes“After reading The Idiot and Either/Or, I was hooked by Batuman's dry, investigative writing style. Written in-part as a piece of academic comparative literature, and also a personal travel-diary, Elif draws memorizing scenes from the somewhat banal circumstances of Russian literature studies. We follow her through Uzbekistan, Russia and Italy and learn a great deal about the history of these places, and the present day people who carry these histories. I am continually impressed by Batuman's authentic style of writing, and personal confessional-style honesty: even if it takes some effort to push through all the necessary detail to get there. I leave you with one of my favourite lines from the book: "When you studied [a language], u weren't learning a history or a story; all you were learning was a collection of words. And the larger implication was that no geographical location, no foreign language, no preexisting entity at all would ever reconcile "who" you were with "what" you were, or where you came from with what you liked."”
Characters change and growDiverse charactersMulti-layered charactersBeautifully writtenDescriptive writingOriginal writingImmersive settingThought-provoking

About Elif Batuman

Elif Batuman has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2010. She is the author of the novels Either/Or, The Idiot, and the nonfiction book The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them. The recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award, and a Paris Review Terry Southern Prize for Humor, she also holds a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford University.

Start a Book Club

Start a public or private book club with this book on the Fable app today!

FAQ

Do I have to buy the ebook to participate in a book club?

Why can’t I buy the ebook on the app?

How is Fable’s reader different from Kindle?

Do you sell physical books too?

Are book clubs free to join on Fable?

How do I start a book club with this book on Fable?

Error Icon
Save to a list
0
/
30
0
/
100
Private List
Private lists are not visible to other Fable users on your public profile.
Notification Icon
Fable uses the TMDB API but is not endorsed or certified by TMDB