November 14, 2022 7:58 AM EST

Elif Batuman returned this year with a sequel to The Idiot, which was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. This time around, the precocious and endearing Selin—who knows she will be a novelist, but isn’t quite sure how—becomes the author of her own story. The year is 1996, and Selin finds herself in her sophomore year at Harvard, freshly armed with a prescription for antidepressants. It’s here that the linguistics student distills exactly what happened last summer, tries to figure out who she wants to be, and travels to Turkey—all to the soundtrack of her favorites: Fiona Apple and Lauryn Hill. —Laura Zornosa

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