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Middlesex
Cover of Middlesex
Middlesex
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In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking classmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them--along with Callie's failure to develop--leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all. The explanation for this shocking state of affairs takes us out of suburbia--back before the Detroit race riots of 1967, before the rise of the Motor City and Prohibition, to 1922, when the Turks sacked Smyrna and Callie's grandparents fled for their lives. Back to a tiny village in Asia Minor where two lovers, and one rare genetic mutation, set in motion the metamorphosis that will turn Callie into a being both mythical and perfectly real: a hermaphrodite.

In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking classmate with a gift for acting. The passion that furtively develops between them--along with Callie's failure to develop--leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. In fact, she is not really a girl at all. The explanation for this shocking state of affairs takes us out of suburbia--back before the Detroit race riots of 1967, before the rise of the Motor City and Prohibition, to 1922, when the Turks sacked Smyrna and Callie's grandparents fled for their lives. Back to a tiny village in Asia Minor where two lovers, and one rare genetic mutation, set in motion the metamorphosis that will turn Callie into a being both mythical and perfectly real: a hermaphrodite.

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • 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.

Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Middlesex, by the much praised Jeffrey Eugenides, presents a huge problem for any reader. Its narrator, a Greek-American born with ambiguous genitalia, spent her/his childhood as an (allegedly) gorgeous little girl, but on discovering at adolescence that he was genetically a boy, transformed Callie into Cal. Kristoffer Tabori does many things well, but at no point does his manly voice sound as if it were ever a pretty little girl's. Further, his Greeks don't sound Greek, and his Cal talks with the same whiny accent as his Greek-born Granny, although Cal was born in Detroit and educated at a fancy Grosse Pointe private school. Both this novel and this production fail to convince or even entertain very much. Seriously disappointing. B.G. 2003 Audie Award Winner (c) AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 1, 2002
    As the Age of the Genome begins to dawn, we will, perhaps, expect our fictional protagonists to know as much about the chemical details of their ancestry as Victorian heroes knew about their estates. If so, Eugenides (The Virgin Suicides) is ahead of the game. His beautifully written novel begins: "Specialized readers may have come across me in Dr. Peter Luce's study, 'Gender Identity in 5-Alpha-Reductase Pseudohermaphrodites.' "The "me" of that sentence, "Cal" Stephanides, narrates his story of sexual shifts with exemplary tact, beginning with his immigrant grandparents, Desdemona and Lefty. On board the ship taking them from war-torn Turkey to America, they married—but they were brother and sister. Eugenides spends the book's first half recreating, with a fine-grained density, the Detroit of the 1920s and '30s where the immigrants settled: Ford car factories and the tiny, incipient sect of Black Muslims. Then comes Cal's story, which is necessarily interwoven with his parents' upward social trajectory. Milton, his father, takes an insurance windfall and parlays it into a fast-food hotdog empire. Meanwhile, Tessie, his wife, gives birth to a son and then a daughter—or at least, what seems to be a female baby. Genetics meets medical incompetence meets history, and Callie is left to think of her "crocus" as simply unusually long—until she reaches the age of 14.Eugenides, like Rick Moody, has an extraordinary sensitivity to the mores of our leafier suburbs, and Cal's gender confusion is blended with the story of her first love, Milton's growing political resentments and the general shedding of ethnic habits. Perhaps the most wonderful thing about this book is Eugenides's ability to feel his way into the girl, Callie, and the man, Cal. It's difficult to imagine any serious male writer of earlier eras so effortlessly transcending the stereotypes of gender. This is one determinedly literary novel that should also appeal to a large, general audience. (Sept. 4)Forecast:The allure of
    The Virgin Suicides, in book and movie form, has created a ready-made audience for Eugenides's long-awaited second novel.
    Middlesex more than delivers, and its publication will be a genuine publishing event, including a 10-city author tour. A novel starring a hermaphrodite on bestseller lists? Stranger things have happened.

  • AudioFile Without a doubt, this audio edition of Eugenides's long-awaited second novel (after The Virgin Suicides) represents an acme of the audiobook genre: the whole equals much more than the sum of its parts...Tabori's performance of the text is phenomenal...
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Jeffrey Eugenides
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