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Elif Batuman (born 1977) is an American author, academic, and journalist.[1] She is the author of a memoir, The Possessed, and a novel, The Idiot, which was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.[2] She has written many widely read essays and articles, including a 2018 essay on Japan's rental family industry for The New Yorker.[3]

Elif Batuman
Born1977 (age 41–42)
  • Author
  • academic
  • journalist
Years active2010–present


Early lifeEdit

Elif Batuman was born in New York City to Turkish parents, and grew up in New Jersey. She graduated from Harvard College, and received her doctorate in comparative literature from Stanford University.[4] While in graduate school, Batuman studied the Uzbek language in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Her dissertation, The Windmill and the Giant: Double-Entry Bookkeeping in the Novel,[5] is about the process of social research and solitary construction undertaken by novelists.[1]


In February 2010, Batuman published her first book, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, based on material she previously published in The New Yorker,[6] Harper's Magazine,[7] and n+1,[8][9] which details her experiences as a graduate student. Her writing has been described as "almost helplessly epigrammatical".[4]

Batuman was writer-in-residence at Koç University in Istanbul, Turkey,[10] from 2010 to 2013. She now lives in New York.[11]



  • The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them. Macmillan. 2010. ISBN 978-0-374-53218-5.
  • The Idiot Penguin, 2017. ISBN 978-1-594-20561-3.

Essays, reporting and other contributionsEdit




  1. ^ a b Kirsch, Adam (February 24, 2010). "A Comedian in the Academy". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  2. ^ "2018 Pulitzer Prize Winners: Full List". Retrieved April 16, 2018.
  3. ^ Batuman, Elif (2018-04-23). "Japan's Rent-a-Family Industry". ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  4. ^ a b Garner, Dwight (February 17, 2010). "Tolstoy & Co. as Objects of Obsession". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  5. ^ I am a doctor.
  6. ^ New Yorker articles
  7. ^ "Elif Batuman | Harper's Magazine". Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  8. ^ "Batuman/Elif". n+1. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  9. ^ 'The Meaning of Russia', Oxonian Review.
  10. ^ "Department of English Language and Comparative Literature - Elif Batuman". Koç University. Retrieved September 16, 2014.
  11. ^ Bio of Elif Batuman, New Yorker contributors page.
  12. ^ Online version is titled "How to be a Stoic".
  13. ^ "The Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Awards". Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  14. ^ "Elif Batuman | WHITING AWARDS". Retrieved March 27, 2017.

External linksEdit