If there is one thing I have learned about myself as a reader is that I love the challenging and polarising reads. The Idiot by Elif Batuman is definitely one that splits readers down the middle. Selin is off to her first year of college at Harvard University. Overwhelmed and on her own Selin must overcome the challenges of adulthood, friendship and boys. Although the description might sound like your average college coming of age story it is anything but.
This was certainly a difficult book to rate, though overall I loved the unique concept and feeling of this book. A book I would classify into a mood read, one not focused on plot or prettiness but on language and feeling and honesty. It is always these reads that I find have polarising optinions, either you are the intended audience and love it or it definitely isn’t your cup of tea. Selin was at once foreign and familiar to the reader. Awkward, unsure and constantly trying to find her feet. It is all too easy to miss the genius of this novel. The tone is so dry and flat (and yet, so convincing and difficult to put down) that if you don’t pay attention you will read right past the astoundingly astute observations that Selin makes throughout the book. These simple observations will floor you and leave you in awe of just how well it captures a feeling.
This is not a big book for pacing or plot, if either of those are requirements for you then The Idiot may not be quite right for you. It certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but if it is for you, then it is an unforgettable and raw read about what it is yo be young and ending yourself. A quietly intelligent read where everyone will find a little bit of themselves in our heroine, Selin. An absolute worthwhile read and worthy inclusion on the Women’s Prize shortlist.