No one who read Elif Batuman’s first article (in the journal n+1) will ever forget it. “Babel in California,” told the true story of various human destinies intersecting at Stanford University during a conference about the enigmatic writer Isaac Babel. Over the course of several pages, Batuman managed to misplace Babel’s last living relatives at the San Francisco airport, uncover Babel’s secret influence on the making of King Kong, and introduce her readers to a new voice that was unpredictable, comic, humane, ironic, charming, poignant, and completely, unpretentiously full of love for literature.
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"Elif Batuman is an American author, academic, and journalist. Born in New York City to Turkish parents, she grew up in New Jersey. She graduated from Harvard College and received her doctorate in comparative literature from Stanford University, where she taught.
Batuman is currently the writer-in-residence at Koç University. While in graduate school, she studied the Uzbek language in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Her dissertation, titled, ""The Windmill and the Giant: Double-Entry Bookkeeping in the Novel,"" is about the process of social research and solitary construction undertaken by novelists. In 2007, she was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award. In February 2010, she published her first book, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, which details her experiences as a graduate student.