Either/Or (Penguin Press)
From the acclaimed and bestselling author of The Idiot, the continuation of beloved protagonist Selin’s quest for self-knowledge, as she travels abroad and tests the limits of her newfound adulthood
Selin is the luckiest person in her family: the only one who was born in America and got to go to Harvard. Now it’s sophomore year, 1996, and Selin knows she has to make it count. The first order of business: to figure out the meaning of everything that happened over the summer. Why did Selin’s elusive crush, Ivan, find her that job in the Hungarian countryside? What was up with all those other people in the Hungarian countryside? Why is Ivan’s weird ex-girlfriend now trying to get in touch with Selin? On the plus side, it feels like the plot of an exciting novel. On the other hand, why do so many novels have crazy abandoned women in them? How does one live a life as interesting as a novel—a life worthy of becoming a novel—without becoming a crazy abandoned woman oneself?
Guided by her literature syllabus and by her more worldly and confident peers, Selin reaches certain conclusions about the universal importance of parties, alcohol, and sex, and resolves to execute them in practice—no matter what the cost. Next on the list: international travel.
Unfolding with the propulsive logic and intensity of youth, Either/Or is a landmark novel by one of our most brilliant writers. Hilarious, revelatory, and unforgettable, its gripping narrative will confront you with searching questions that persist long after the last page.
Elif Batuman’s first novel, The Idiot, was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize, and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction in the UK. She is also the author of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, which was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. She has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2010 and holds a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford University.
Emma Cline is the author of The Girls and the short story collection Daddy. The winner of an O’Henry Prize and the Plimpton Prize from The Paris Review, Cline was also chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists.
Praise for Either/Or -
“Selin, the magnetic protagonist in Batuman’s brilliant and comedic first novel, The Idiot (2017), returns . . . Month by month, Batuman’s brainy, attentive, outspoken narrator grapples with the absurd (literary pretension, academics, sex) and the sublime (literature, music, sex) . . . Through it all, valiant Selin reads and ponders the human condition, culminating in a breath-catching ending that will leave spellbound readers hoping for more from Batuman’s bright and witty adventurer of conscience.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Selin is a disarming narrator, tossing off insights that are revelatory, moving, and laugh-out-loud funny—sometimes all at once—and it’s exciting to watch her become the author of her own story. Another delightfully cerebral and bighearted novel from a distinctive voice in contemporary fiction.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“Effervescent . . . Observant, defiant, and newly on antidepressants, Selin approaches the mystery of human relations with a beginner’s naivete and sharp intelligence . . . Batuman’s light touch and humor are brought to bear on serious questions . . . As accomplished as The Idiot was, this improves upon it, and Batuman’s already sharp chops as a novelist come across as even more refined in these pages. Readers will be enraptured.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“In 2018, Elif Batuman’s witty campus novel, The Idiot, was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. . . . Now, Batuman returns with a sequel, Either/Or, that picks up during Selin’s just-as-messy sophomore year. Expect a master course in snappy social observation.” —TIME, “The 21 Most Anticipated Books of 2022”
“It’s the fall of 1996, and Harvard sophomore Selin puzzles over last summer’s adventures in Hungary: the tug of attraction, the allure of canonical literature, and the what-just-happened mysteries of youth. The pencil line between fantasy and reality blurs as she decides to go back through the looking glass in search of herself. Batuman, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and New Yorker writer, brings delicious detail and light irony to her heroine’s quest.” —Oprah Daily, “The 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2022”
“Elif Batuman’s debut novel, The Idiot, is one of the best works of fiction published in the 21st century. Her new novel, Either/Or, picks up where The Idiot left off. . . . Batuman has an extremely keen sense for what makes characters engaging and renders it all in supernaturally observant and funny prose.” —AV Club, “The 15 most-anticipated books of 2022”
“[A] much-anticipated sequel. Either/Or takes places in 1996 and follows Selin throughout her sophomore year as she attempts to make sense of everything that happened the summer before.” —Nylon, “24 Books We’re Looking Forward to in 2022”
“Literary novels so rarely get sequels, in the strictest sense, but this year they’re out in force. Batuman’s latest picks up where her deeply enjoyable 2017 novel The Idiot left off, with Selin now a sophomore at Harvard, trying to untangle all that has happened, and all that could. Besides, Kierkegaard/Elliott Smith vibes will always bring me to the table.” —LitHub, “Most Anticipated Books of 2022”