The Idiot, by Elif Batuman, was another book club pick…
In 1995, back when email was a new thing, Harvard freshman Selin, a young Turkish-American woman, sets about to discover herself. She navigates dorm life, takes classes in subjects she never imagined herself studying, and begins meeting new friends.
It all sounds like the beginning of a fabulous adventure, because who wouldn’t expect a novel about college life to be filled with fun and frivolity. Except this one isn’t.
The Idiot is basically a story about what happens when people are so smart that they can’t actually relate to the real world. Her conversations with others barely touch on subjects that normal 18 year olds would discuss, instead opting for the nonsensical ramblings of a genius with no real-life experience.
Selin bumbles along, disliking her roommate without ever having a conversation, falling in love and getting her heart broken via email without seeming to display any emotion, and never really finding any joy or sorrow in her surroundings. The best way to describe her life is academic.
I kept waiting for this book to get better, because a friend said her mother told her it was funny. I wonder now if she meant funny in the ironic sense. At any rate, this book, for me, did not contain any funny. It also didn’t contain any emotion at all…