Batuman's semi-autobiographical debut novel explores language and its shortcomings, the awkwardness of young adulthood, and the encompassing pain of a crush from the perspective of Selin, an Ivy League freshman of Turkish descent. The beauty of the novel comes from Selin's raw relatability; some passages made me physically cringe in the way that finding and reading my journal from ten years ago might. I walked away from the novel with a bit more empathy for my former self.
This is the collection I keep close at all times and the one I'm most likely to hand to a friend in pain. It gives me perspective, grounds me, reminds me that there's love and light in a world that exhausts.
One essay, presented in vignettes, interweaving the construction of a house and a direct address to a lover. The author's deft use of language echoes the lyricism of a prose poem without sacrificing the approachability of a personal essay. One of the most unique and gorgeous books I've come across lately.