Elif Batuman is an American author, academic and journalist.

Born in 1977 in New York City to Turkish parents, Batuman grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Harvard, later receiving her doctorate in comparative literature from Stanford University. 

In 2010, she published her first book, The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, based on material she previously published in the New Yorker (where she is a staff writer), Harper’s Magazine, and N+1, which details her experiences as a comparative literature graduate student at Stanford University.

Reviewing the book for the New York Times, critic Dwight Garner praised the ‘winsome and infectious delight she feels in the presence of literary genius and beauty.’

Batuman’s novel The Idiot is partly based on her own experiences attending Harvard in the mid-1990s and teaching English in Hungary in the summer of 1996. It was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.