Our pick for September 2020 is The Idiot, by Elif Batuman.
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Here’s how the Vox Book Club works: Every month, we pick a book. Throughout the month, we publish discussion posts containing thoughts and questions from Vox book critic Constance Grady, but we also have comments turned on and moderated so you can share your thoughts, too. Talk among yourselves! Post your opinions and questions! Or use our discussion posts as a jumping-off point for (socially distanced) discussions with your own friends and family. And at the end of the month, we gather on Zoom for a virtual live discussion.
Our pick for September is Elif Batuman’s The Idiot. The Idiot was one of Vox book critic Constance Grady’s favorite novels of 2017, a weird and funny and tender book about communication and semiotics and how absolutely bizarre language is. It’s a campus novel set at Harvard in 1995, during the cultural moment when email was just becoming a thing. Freshman student Selin is struggling to figure out how to perform as the kind of person Harvard freshmen are supposed to be: She has to consciously remember to pretend she can’t resist chocolate, and when her roommate tells her to buy an Einstein poster, instead of buying the one where Einstein’s sticking out his tongue, she buys just a portrait of Einstein, so everyone thinks she stans for him and keeps explaining his flaws to her the whole year. One day, Selin strikes up an email correspondence with a boy she’s barely spoken to, and their relationship begins to develop in strange and unexpected ways.
To close out the month, Constance will host a live discussion of The Idiot on Wednesday, September 30, with the author herself, Elif Batuman. Come join us! Sign up here to be notified about new book selections, discussions, and related live events.
Here’s the full Vox Book Club schedule for September 2020
Friday, September 11: First discussion post on The Idiot
Friday, September 25: Second discussion post on The Idiot
Wednesday, September 30: Virtual live discussion featuring Vox book critic Constance Grady and The Idiot author Elif Batuman. Sign up for the Vox Book Club newsletter and we’ll send you the RSVP link as soon as it’s up!