Fiction – paperback; Bloomsbury; 529 pages; 2003.
Jeffrey Eugenides’ latest book has received rave reviews, been an international bestseller and won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. And no wonder — it is BRILLIANT. Middlesex is wholly original and unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Just look at the opening line:
I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.
How could you not be intrigued?
The narrator, Calliope Helen Stephanides, tells an amazingly entertaining story, tracing not only her own incredible history but that of her entire family’s, beginning with her emigre grandparents, who have their own secrets to keep. By unravelling this secret, Cal is able to understand who she is and where she comes from.
This illuminating book not only explores the notions of sex and gender identity, but what it is to be a Greek-American in a racially-troubled society (a large portion of the story is set during the times leading up to and surrounding the race riots of 1967).
All in all this is a wry, humorous, moving, exhilarating and fascinating read. And it will do wonders for raising awareness of those born with this surprisingly common but largely hidden genetic mutation now referred to as “intersex”.
Eugenides is definitely giving American darling Jonathan Franzen a run for his money!