I feel a direct line extending from that girl with her knees steepled beneath the hotel blankets to this person writing now in an Aeron chair. Hers was the duty to live out a mythical life in the actual world, mine to tell about it now. -From Middlesex, page 424-
Jeffrey Eugenides Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece, Middlesex, is a rich family saga spanning three generations and takes the reader from Greece to Detroit on a whirlwind ride of rich, original language and spot on characterization. The story of Calliope Stephanides – an American born intersex individual with strong Greek heritage – is narrated by Cal…Calliope’s adult male counterpart.
Middlesex is a tragic story which is comically portrayed using Greek mythology. Eugenides is a talented writer – his vivid descriptions are filled with the lush sensations of life. The characters who people this wonderful novel are fully developed; their flaws and imperfections revealed even through the names they are given: The Object (Calliope’s teenage love interest), Chapter Eleven (Cal’s brother), and a vast array of other characters based on mythical stories. Even the title of the book is steeped in symbolism.
The novel is essentially two stories: the history of a Greek family who carries a recessive gene; and the coming of age story of the main character – Calliope. At times it was easy to forget that this huge novel was written by a man. Eugenides wonderful insight into the thoughts of an awkward, self-conscious teenage girl is finely illustrated in this scene in the locker room after a field hockey game:
The novel is an exploration of immigration and the split loyalties that immigrants face. Eugenides parallels this theme with that of identity in general using the pain of adolescence and the confusion of sexual identity as spring boards to delve into the human psyche.
Middlesex is a vividly imaginative novel – epic in its scope and sensitively wrought. It is well deserving of the Pulitzer Prize.