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Middlesex (2002)

by Jeffrey Eugenides

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
24,79459392 (4.11)905
In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry blonde 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.… (more)
  1. 102
    The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (sipthereader, sturlington)
  2. 81
    Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters (_debbie_)
    _debbie_: Both are (at least partially) historical novels with strong themes of identity, coming of age, and going against the mainstream to stay true to what you feel is right. Although one is set in Victorian England and the other isn't, they both have that same feel of rich language and descriptive place.… (more)
  3. 81
    The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving (Othemts)
    Othemts: Multi-generational eccentric families, entrepreneurship, incest, the average made epic - yep, these books have it all!
  4. 82
    A Widow for One Year by John Irving (readerbabe1984)
  5. 83
    The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (bookmomo)
    bookmomo: share the same exquisite sense of setting: boring, but not terrible suburban America, second half of last century.
  6. 51
    As Nature Made Him by John Colapinto (librorumamans, librorumamans)
    librorumamans: The connection of this book to Middlesex is Eugenides' character, Dr Luce, who appears to be modelled on Dr John Money of Johns Hopkins University. As Nature Made Him is a non-fiction account of Money's experimental (and unsuccessful) sex reassignment of David Reimer, whose botched infant circumcision left him genitally mutilated. Both books compellingly look at the complexity of gender identity.… (more)
  7. 20
    Anywhere but Here by Mona Simpson (ainsleytewce)
    ainsleytewce: Both are very American stories, about families in the 20th century, fighting wars, starting businesses, raising families, and both feature a teenage protagonist.
  8. 64
    The Human Stain: A Novel by Philip Roth (sarah-e)
    sarah-e: A character 'passes' in society - dealing with culture and identity.
  9. 10
    Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City by Marjorie Housepian Dobkin (Anonymous user)
  10. 10
    How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States by Joanne Meyerowitz (jacr)
  11. 10
    The Hours by Michael Cunningham (sturlington)
  12. 10
    The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit by Thomas J. Sugrue (jacr)
    jacr: A scholarly discussion of the decline of Detroit and its race riots. People who liked Eugenides's fictional account of Detroit might be interested in this historical version.
  13. 32
    Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (someproseandcons)
    someproseandcons: Both books are family and community sagas centered around secrets, and both books are carried by a strong and compelling voice.
  14. 32
    The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich (ainsleytewce)
    ainsleytewce: Both begin with immigrants who come to America at approximately the same time.
  15. 22
    Intersex: A Perilous Difference by Morgan Holmes (boat-song)
    boat-song: Contains an amazing chapter on Eugenides and Middlesex, and for those interested in gender, a must read.
  16. 00
    Getting Ghost: Two Young Lives and the Struggle for the Soul of an American City by Luke Bergmann (paulkid)
    paulkid: Get a little history of Detroit from the stories of the people who lived there.
  17. 11
    Labor of Love: The Story of One Man's Extraordinary Pregnancy by Thomas Beatie (infiniteletters)
  18. 00
    Sugarless by James Magruder (amberwitch)
    amberwitch: Similar topic and era
  19. 23
    Annabel by Kathleen Winter (BookshelfMonstrosity, JooniperD)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Annabel follows the life of a hermaphrodite who was not masculine enough to please his father. The novel explores themes of family relations, gender roles, and sexual identity similar to those in Middlesex.
    JooniperD: While reminiscent of Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex, Annabel is a compelling and accomplished debut novel about one person’s struggle to discover the truth in a culture that shuns contradiction. Annabel offers some hard themes for readers. It is the story of an intersex child born in a remote coastal Labrador village in 1968. Primarily, I feel, Winter has written an homage to self-determination and self-preservation. An intersex child is born with atypical reproductive anatomy – both male and female anatomy are present. Advocates for intersex infants argue against surgical alterations of gentalia and reproductive organs being performed in order to accommodate societal expectations of what it means to be male or female in the world. This choice forms the centre of Winter’s novel.… (more)
  20. 01
    The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (2810michael)

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» See also 905 mentions

English (575)  Italian (4)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (1)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (589)
Showing 1-5 of 575 (next | show all)
A remarkable exploration of sex and its atypical manifestations, wrapped half in puckish, dry humor and half in obsession to represent fully those experiences. I loved the creative touches, from the narration’s omniscience (e.g., an unfertilized egg, a brain dead car crash victim) to the tongue-in-cheek integration of US history (e.g., Chapter Eleven, the founding of the Nation of Islam). The only mild complaints were re: disjointed transitions and character inconsistencies that are hard to smooth with a large cast. ( )
  jiyoungh | May 3, 2021 |
In addition to Donna Tartt ([b:The Goldfinch|17333223|The Goldfinch|Donna Tartt|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1451554970s/17333223.jpg|24065147]), Eugenides is probably my favorite contemporary novelist. ( )
  chrisvia | Apr 29, 2021 |
This was good. An interesting story well told. It didn't really address gender differences as much as I expected/hoped. But, I like Cal. I would enjoy having coffee or a drink with him. ( )
  KittyCunningham | Apr 26, 2021 |
Middlesex was such a good surprise. I don’t know exactly what my expectations were, but I had let Middlesex sit in my TBR pile for a long time, afraid – I think – that it would require too much of a mental effort to read it. My impression then was that it would be too experimental and controversial, but when I finally picked it up I was instantly absorbed in this family saga, its secrets, fortunes and misfortunes.

Reading other reviews I see that people liked or disliked either the first or last parts of the book almost in the same numbers. There is obviously a rupture not only in plot, but in voice and even genre. The first part is a saga, while the end is a coming of age – and gender - story. Personally I felt that going from the family history into the more personal story was a natural evolution, and cannot say I enjoyed one over the other.

The best book I read in a while. I must read more of Eugenides’ writing.

( )
  RosanaDR | Apr 15, 2021 |
This was far far better than I expected from the blurb. It is a proper old fashioned saga-immigrants trying to build an American Dream-but with a twist (well several actually). The characters are all beautifully portrayed particularly Calliope/Call. The author does a superb job in exploring her/his feelings and motivations. There are moments of comedy, of tragedy and even an edge of the seat car chase. And just as I was wondering what had happened to Desdemona and was this a gaping hole in the plot she reappears in the last few pages. A great and enjoyable read. ( )
  Patsmith139 | Mar 15, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 575 (next | show all)
This novel repeats the stand-out achievements of The Virgin Suicides: an ability to describe the horrible in a comic voice, an unusual form of narration and an eye for bizarre detail.
added by SqueakyChu | editGuardian, Mark Lawson (Oct 5, 2002)
 
Eugenides does such a superb job of capturing the ironies and trade-offs of assimilation that Calliope's evolution into Cal doesn't feel sudden at all, but more like a transformation we've been through ourselves.
 
Some of this footloose book is charming. Most of it is middling.
added by Shortride | editTime, Richard Lacayo (Sep 23, 2002)
 
His narrator is a soul who inhabits a liminal realm, a creature able to bridge the divisions that plague humanity, endowed with ''the ability to communicate between the genders, to see not with the monovision of one sex but in the stereoscope of both.'' That utopian reach makes ''Middlesex'' deliriously American; the novel's patron saint is Walt Whitman, and it has some of the shagginess of that poet's verse to go along with the exuberance. But mostly it is a colossal act of curiosity, of imagination and of love.
 
''Middlesex'' is a novel about roots and rootlessness. (The middle-sex, middle-ethnic, middle-American DNA twists are what move Cal to Berlin; the author now lives there too.) But the writing itself is also about mixing things up, grafting flights of descriptive fancy with hunks of conversational dialogue, pausing briefly to sketch passing characters or explain a bit of a bygone world.

''The Virgin Suicides'' is all of a piece, contained within the boundaries of one neighborhood; ''Middlesex'' -- a strange Scheherazade of a book -- is all in pieces, as all big family stories are, bursting the boundaries of logic.
 

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eugenides, Jeffreyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bagnoli, KatiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nilsson, Hans-JacobTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tabori, KristofferNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For Yama, who comes from a different gene pool entirely
First words
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.
Quotations
"Don't you think it would have been easier just to stay the way you were?"
I lifted my face and looked into my mother's eyes. And I told her: "This is the way I was."
The textbook publishers would make sure to cover my face. The black box: a fig leaf in reverse, concealing identity while leaving shame exposed.
Historical fact: people stopped being human in 1913. That was the year Henry Ford put his cars on rollers and made his workers adopt the speed of the assembly line. At first, the workers rebelled. They quit in droves, unable to accustom their bodies to the new pace of the age. Since then, adaptation has been passed down: we've all inherited it to some degree, so that we plug right into joysticks and remotes, to repetitive motions of a hundred kinds.

But in 1922 it was still a new thing to be a machine.
He looked up at me with no expression, blinking. That was Chapter Eleven's way. Everything went on in him internally. Inside his braincase sensations were being reviewed, evaluated, before any reaction was given. I was used to this, of course...He was quiet, blinking. There was the usual lag time while he thought.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, finds herself drawn to a chain-smoking, strawberry blonde 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.

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Three generations of a Greek American family find themselves plagued by a mutant gene which causes bizarre side effects in the family's teenage girls.
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