By Jeffrey Eugenides
(Picador, Paperback, 9780312422158, 544pp.)
Publication Date: September 2003
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"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license...records my first name simply as Cal."
So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.
Jeffrey Eugenides was born in Detroit and attended Brown and Stanford Universities. His first novel, The Virgin Suicides, was published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux to great acclaim in 1993, and he has received numerous awards for his work.
- Describing his own conception, Cal writes: “The timing of the thing had to be just so in order for me to become the person I am. Delay the act by an hour and you change the gene selection.” (p. 11) Is Cal’s condition a result of chance or fate? Which of these forces governs the world as Cal sees it?
"Part Tristram Shandy, part Ishmael, part Holden Caulfield, Cal is a wonderfully engaging narrator. . . A deeply affecting portrait of one family’s tumultuous engagement with the American twentieth century." --The New York Times
"Expansive and radiantly generous. . . Deliriously American." --The New York Times Book Review (cover review)
"A towering achievement. . . . [Eugenides] has emerged as the great American writer that many of us suspected him of being." --Los Angeles Times Book Review (cover review)
"A big, cheeky, splendid novel. . . it goes places few narrators would dare to tread. . . lyrical and fine." --The Boston Globe
"An epic. . . This feast of a novel is thrilling in the scope of its imagination and surprising in its tenderness." --People
"Unprecedented, astounding. . . . The most reliably American story there is: A son of immigrants finally finds love after growing up feeling like a freak." --San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
"Middlesex is about a hermaphrodite in the way that Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel is about a teenage boy. . . A novel of chance, family, sex, surgery, and America, it contains multitudes." --Men’s Journal
"Wildly imaginative. . . frequently hilarious and touching." --USA Today