Selin, the heroine of Elif Batuman’s autobiographical first novel, The Idiot (Penguin Press), is an 18-year-old Harvard freshman of Turkish-American descent. Set in 1995, the novel observes the rise of internet culture. Batuman reveals that she wrote a draft of the novel shortly after graduating from college. When she came back to it in her late 30s, she was amused and surprised by how puffed-up her characters were. She called the revised novel The Idiot because Selin and her fellow Harvard classmates have no idea how foolish and downright funny their behavior and attitudes can be.
Photo by Alex Pieros