Harman Writer-In-Residence, Spring 2015
(Photo by Carolyn Drake)
Elif Batuman is the author of “The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them,” a finalist for a national Book Critics Circle Award. From 2010 to 2013, she was Writer-in-Residence at Koç University in Istanbul, where she also reported for The New Yorker on various aspects of Turkish life. She is a recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, a Whiting Writers Award, and the Paris Review Terry Southern Prize for Humor, and holds a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford University. She moved to New York in 2013, and is working on her first novel.
From “Who Killed Tolstoy?” an essay in “The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them,” the International Tolstoy Conference lasts four days and is held on the grounds of Yasnaya Polyana, the estate where Tolstoy was born, lived most of his life, wrote War and Peace and Anna Karenina, and is buried.
Once, when I was a graduate student, a paper of mine was accepted at the conference. At the time, my department awarded two kinds of travel grants: $1,000 for presenting a paper at an international conference or $2,500 for international field research. My needs clearly fell into the first category, but with an extra $1,500 on the line, I decided to have a go at writing a field-research proposal. Surely there was some mystery that could only be solved at Tolstoy’s house?
I was rather pleased by my proposal, which I titled “Did Tolstoy Die of Natural Causes of Was He Murdered?: A Forensic Investigation,” and which included a survey of individuals who had motive and opportunity to effect Tolstoy’s death…”
Tuesday, March 24, 2015, 5:45 pm
A reading and conversation with Elif Batuman in the Asriel and Marie Rackow Conference Room, Room 750, Information and Technology Building, Baruch College.
Watch segments from the reading event here: