Middlesex
Middlesex
Book for June 2013
Group 1
Middlesex is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jeffrey Eugenides published in 2002. The book is a bestseller, with more than three million copies sold as of May 2011. Its characters and events are loosely based on aspects of Eugenides' life and observations of his Greek heritage. It is not an autobiography; unlike the protagonist, Eugenides is not intersex. The author decided to write Middlesex after he read the 1980 memoir Herculine Barbin and was unsatisfied with its discussion of intersex anatomy and emotions.

The novel starts with a narration by its protagonist, Cal (his masculine identity), also known as Calliope (feminine): He recounts how 5-alpha-reductase deficiency, a recessive condition, causes him to be born with female characteristics. The book continues with accounts of his family's history, starting with his paternal grandparents in their home village and ending with his father's funeral. These accounts cover the conception of Cal, his teenage years, and the discovery of his intersex condition. Throughout the book, Cal weaves his opinion of the events in hindsight and of his life after his father's funeral. Eugenides sets Middlesex in the 20th century and interjects historical elements, such as the Balkan Wars, the Nation of Islam, the Watergate scandal, and the 1967 Detroit riot in the story.
About the Author
Jeffrey Eugenides
is an American novelist and short story writer. He has written numerous short stories and essays, as well as three novels: The Virgin Suicides (1993), Middlesex (2002), and The Marriage Plot (2011). The Virgin Suicides has been filmed, while Middlesex received the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in addition to being a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International Dublin Literary Award, and France's Prix M├ędicis.

Eugenides is now based, with his wife and child, in Princeton, New Jersey, where he is Professor of Creative Writing in the Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts. Of teaching creative writing, Eugenides remarked in an interview in The Paris Review, "I tell my students that when you write, you should pretend you're writing the best letter you ever wrote to the smartest friend you have. That way, you'll never dumb things down. You won't have to explain things that don't need explaining. You'll assume an intimacy and a natural shorthand, which is good because readers are smart and don't wish to be condescended to. I think about the reader. I care about the reader. Not 'audience.' Not 'readership.' Just the reader."

Other books we've read by the same author:

The Marriage Plot