Life’s great dilemma: Either/Or, by Elif Batuman, reviewed

In this delightful sequel to her semi-autobiographical novel The Idiot (2017), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Elif Batuman returns to Harvard to follow her protagonist Selin during her sophomore year. Selin has spent the summer of 1996 teaching English in Hungary, trailing her friend Ivan. Her crush on him remains unrequited and unconsummated, but she is determined to make up for lost time by having ‘interesting love experiences’ this year. The Idiot was preceded by The Possessed, a New York Times bestseller about Batuman’s fascination with Russian literature. While her first two books take their titles from Dostoevsky, Either/Or refers to Kierkegaard’s treatise on the pros and