You do have to admire the chutzpah of a writer who borrows a title from Dostoevsky for her debut novel. The great, intense Russian writer is mentioned a few times, but this is hardly a dark exploration of the soul. It's a rather slight, but energetic, story of a woman attending Harvard (You know, the school in Cambridge.) and going through the usual vicissitudes of the undergraduate experience. Later in the book, she travels to Hungary, party because she likes some Hungarian dude named Ivan, although, honestly, he doesn't seem worthy her time. It's a lovely 200 page novel trapped inside a book twice as long. Batuman also wrote a non-fiction book called "The Possessed."

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