“The Repugnant Conclusion”
by Elif Batuman
from the April 25 & May 2, 2022 issue of The New Yorker
I think Elif Batuman’s work is great, and I’m excited for her forthcoming novel, Either/Or, which is a sequel to her debut novel The Idiot (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize a few years ago) and comes out from Penguin Press on May 22. “The Repugnant Conclusion” is an excerpt or, as it is called in her interview with Deborah Treisman, an adaptation from Either/Or. So if you’re excited to reunite with Selin, here’s a chance to do so before the new book comes out in May. This seems to pick up pretty much just a few months after we left off:
Svetlana got back to Harvard the day after me, though it felt like years. I had already slept the night in my new room, eaten breakfast and lunch in the cafeteria, and made numerous trips to the storage facility, having the same conversation over and over with people whose existence I had forgotten. “How was your summer?” “How was your summer?” “How was Hungary?”
“So, how was Hungary? Did anything happen?” Lakshmi asked, with a conspiratorial sparkle. Lakshmi was one of the people I remembered: last year, when we were freshmen, we had exchanged condences; we had both been in love with older guys. There had been certain similarities between our situations, between Ivan and Noor. And, notwithstanding my feeling that a lot of things had happened, I answered the question truthfully, in the sense that I knew Lakshmi intended it. Nothing had happened. Meaning, nothing had happened with Ivan. Meaning, we hadn’t had sex.
Please let me know if you’ve read The Idiot, if you’re excited about Either/Or, and, regardless, what your thoughts on “The Repugnant Conclusion” are.