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The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them Paperback – 5 Apr 2012
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Praise for "The Possessed" “In her comic, poignant, beguiling book, Batuman succeeds marvelously in illuminating her version of love.” ―Reese Kwon, "Virginia"" Quarterly Review "“At every step along the way, Batuman’s observations are wonderfully vivid.” ―Julia Keller, "Chicago"" Tribune "“Odd and oddly profound . . . Among the charms of Ms. Batuman’s prose is her fond, funny way of describing the people around her . . . Perhaps Ms. Batuman’s best quality as a writer though―beyond her calm, lapidary prose―is the winsome and infectious delight she feels in the presence of literary genius and beauty. She’s the kind of reader who sends you back to your bookshelves with a sublime buzz in your head. You want to feel what she’s feeling.” ―Dwight Garner, "The New York Times Book Review "“It’s not surprising that some people never get over these books, and Batuman, for
About the Author
ELIF BATUMAN was born in New York City and grew up in New Jersey. She graduated from Harvard, and received her doctorate in comparative literature from Stanford University. She is currently the writer-in-residence at Koc University, Istanbul. Her writing has been published in the New Yorker, n+1, Harper's and the Guardian, and she has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer's Award. This is her first book.
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Top Customer Reviews
But the strange thing about the book lies in the writing style.Read more ›
This gives the book a distinct lack of unity - sure, some of it is brilliant, but at other times, this reader at least thought, yes, but this isn't really why I came here. The book is subtitled "Adventures with Russian Books and the People who Read Them", and in a loose way, I suppose that's fair enough, but I expected more unity of purpose, with more material written specifically for this book rather than a fair amount of bringing together previously published lectures and articles.
I've no problem with bringing together collections of previously published material, but I do think the publishers should make this clear on the cover because in this case at least, I could find quite a bit of the book online and find out whether it was something I wanted to read. As it is, the book is very selective in its appraisal of Russian books and the people who read them and hardly serves the purpose of its subtitle at all - in my humble opinion!
I wanted more, I suppose something like it says on the tin - a book about reading Russian literature, something more comprehensive, with a bit of planning behind it. I got instead large chunks about Batuman's intellectual and academic development including tortuous stories of how she ended up learning the Uzbek language, or how she moved from one course to another while at college.Read more ›
But, I think the book has been sneakily marketed as something which it is not; by the half way point, I think, there had been a handful of mentions of Tolstoy, and a tale of an academic conference related stay at his home, and some passing references to Pushkin, Babel (not really one of the greatest), and Dostoyevsky. The book does not in fact explore Russian books much at all - it mentions them in the context of the author's adventures, and as such, the emphasis is heavily on the adventures of a young Turkish woman in America and the former USSR, following her own path in life and describing the people she meets (the majority of whom do not seem to read Russian books!), not the books themselves. 'Possessed' is therefore frustrating if you want to gain many insights or fresh perspectives on most of the great Russian writers, and is better approached simply as a memoir which will occasionally mention some works you may know, or plan to read.
Overall, a little bit underwhelming.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book begins with a bang-up first 80 or so pages, and that initial spark should provide enough momentum to propel most readers to the end, though by the final chapter we do seem... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Hamilton Beck
What to say about this book, other than give it a try, especially if you like Russian writers. Quirky, funny, erudite and interesting.Published on 9 Oct. 2013 by J.A.L.
I loved Elif Batuman's book! It is a hybrid - part autobiographical novel, part research diary; it is packed with knowledge (gained or being acquired) and ideas, and it will make... Read morePublished on 28 July 2013 by A Buchler
Great book, well written, and draws you in to stories of Russian writers.... not a subject I had much interest in before. Batuman has enormous creativity and big ideasPublished on 20 Jun. 2013 by Cal Flyn
I did expect this to be a rich exploration of Russian literature and the multiple positive quotes on the cover sucked me in. Read morePublished on 2 Feb. 2013 by nanda
'The Possessed' is a collection of essays loosely linked by Elif Batuman's experiences as a graduate student in comparative literature. Read morePublished on 23 April 2012 by Paul Bowes
You know, Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, yes, that one, if you enjoyed that, please don't read this. If you like Chekhov or Dickens, this is not for you. Read morePublished on 1 Jan. 2012 by Ade
I knew very little about Russian literature so I thought this could be an interesting book to read and I did find It interesting reading if not for the reasons I'd expected. Read morePublished on 17 Oct. 2011 by Damaskcat