What’s the Doofus for?
Clair Wills reviews Either/Or by Elif Batuman in the London Review of Books.
“The games start on the first page. Either/Or, the sequel to Elif Batuman’s campus novel, The Idiot (2017), begins where the first book left off, with Selin, now aged nineteen, arriving at Harvard for her second year at university. It’s September 1996. We last saw her in August, on holiday in Turkey with her mother, aunts and cousins. She was having a bad time, ‘living pointless, shapeless days’. She’d been scooped up by family, sucked back into childhood, and had fallen out of the plot of her own life. Nothing had happened in the love story or the becoming-an-author story that she had tried to bring into being in her first year away from home. Her sentimental education, as well as her ambitions to be a linguistics major, had failed: ‘I hadn’t learned anything at all.’”