- OverDrive Read
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- 10 Best Books of 2002
The New York Times
- National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
The National Book Critics Circle
- Pulitzer Prize
- Stonewall Honor Book Award
American Library Association
About the Author-
- Jeffrey Eugenides is the author of three novels. His first, The Virgin Suicides (1993), is now considered a modern classic. Middlesex (2002) won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and both Middlesex and The Marriage Plot (2011) were finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Fresh Complaint, a collection of short stories, was published in 2017. He is a member both of The American Academy of Arts and Letters and The American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
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.
Starred review from December 2, 2002
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. This is simultaneously the tale of a gene passed down through three generations and the story of Calliope Stephanides, the recipient of that gene. Never quite feeling at home in her body, Callie discovered at the age of 14 that she is, in fact, genetically, if not completely anatomically, a boy. From this point on she becomes Cal, and it is Cal, the 41-year-old man, who narrates the story, dipping all the way back in history to the time of his grandparents' incestuous relationship in war-torn Turkey. Tabori's performance of the text is phenomenal. His somewhat high-register, wavering voice, reminiscent of a young Burgess Meredith, is completely convincing as both the young female Callie and the older male Cal. Not only are his interpretations of the characters astonishingly credible, but his internalization of the narrative is nothing short of amazing. Listeners will feel this exhilarating story is being told personally to them for the very first time.
Additionally, the intro music at the beginning of each of the 28 sides is different, with each snippet offering a different style of music, reflecting the current timeline and mood of the story. This adds a subtle but wonderful effect. Simultaneous release with the FSG hardcover (Forecasts, July 1).
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