TheRubin Institute

Progressives vs. bigots: How I Won a Nobel Prize, by Julius Taranto, reviewed

This is the kind of comic novel I greatly admire, because it makes me feel so anxious and wrong-footed. I laughed wholeheartedly until an inner voice chided, in a contradictory fashion, ‘that’s not supposed to be funny’ and ‘can’t you see it’s a joke?’ Given that the book is about that very modern set of dilemmas, my admiration for Julius Taranto’s work is even greater. The novel’s protagonist is Helen, a graduate student, who explains her field in the opening sentence: ‘The Rubin Institute had nothing to do with high-temperature superconductors, so I cannot say I had spent much time thinking about it.’ Her supervisor has been offered a position