by Jeffrey Eugenides

MiddlesexThe kaleidoscopic story of a hermaphrodite—spanning three generations and two continents, from the small Greek village of Smyrna to the smoggy, crime-riddled streets of Detroit, past historical events, and through family secrets.

Opening paragraph:  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.  Specialized readers may have come across me in Dr. Peter Luce’s study, “Gender Identity in 5-Alpha-Reductase Pseudohermaphrodites,” published in the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology in 1975.  Or maybe you’ve seen my photograph in chapter sixteen of the now sadly outdated Genetics and Heredity.  That’s me on page 578, standing naked beside a height chart with a black box covering my eyes.

Quotes from critics:  “Delightful… a big-hearted engine of a novel [with] epic-proportioned emotions and an intelligent, exuberant voice.” (The Globe and Mail); “Middlesex vibrates with wit. . . . A virtuosic combination of elegy, sociohistorical study, and picaresque adventure: altogether irresistible.” (Kirkus Reviews); “One of the delights of Middlesex is how soundly it’s constructed, with motifs and characters weaving through the novel’s various episodes, pulling it tight. The book’s length feels like its author’s arms are stretching farther and farther to encompass more people, more life. . . . It is a colossal act of curiosity, of imagination and of love.”(The New York Times)

Bio:  Born in 1960, Jeffrey Eugenides is an American novelist and short story writer.  According to Wikipedia,  Eugenides knew he wanted to be a writer from a relatively early age, stating “I decided very early—my junior year of high school. We read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man that year, and it had a big effect on me, for reasons that seem quite amusing to me now. I’m half . . . Greek . . . and, for that reason, I identified with Stephen Dedalus. Like me, he was bookish, good at academics, and possessed an ‘absurd name, an ancient Greek.’”  Eugenides teaches creative writing in Princeton, New Jersey.

Award:  Pulitzer prize for fiction