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Public Talk by Elif Batuman, Pulitzer Prize in fiction Nominee

Join us for the public talk by Elif Batuman, American author, journalist and academic.

Elif Batuman has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2010. From 2010 to 2013 she lived in Istanbul, Turkey, where she was a writer-in-residence at Koç University. Her first novel, The Idiot, was a finalist for a 2018 Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Her book The Possessed was a finalist for a 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award. She is a recipient of a Whiting Writer’s Award, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, and the Paris Review Terry Southern Prize for Humor, and she holds a doctoral degree in comparative literature from Stanford University.

From 2010 to 2013, Elif was a writer-in-residence at Koç University in Istanbul. During this time, she also reported about Turkey—her parents’ country of origin—for the New Yorker, where she is now a staff writer. Her most recent story for the New Yorker, about the “rental relative industry” in Japan, won a 2019 National Magazine Award.

In 2017, Elif finally published the autobiographical novel she wrote “for the drawer.” By now, it was a historical novel: the setting is 1995. Because it is a book about someone who is mistaken in many things, she gave it the title, The Idiot. This novel was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2018.

Starting in 2016, Elif started going through a political awakening. She is working on a new book about how novels and romance have been used politically to aestheticize unfreedom—to make constraints seem “complicated,” interesting, and unavoidable. She has concluded, reluctantly, that many of her favorite novelists, unwittingly helped perpetuate ideologies that have disenfranchised women and children. She is thinking and writing about how and whether the novel tradition may be readapted in order to increase human freedom.

Remember to bring your passport or driver’s license.

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