Narrator Calliope Stephanides recounts the family history, from dire poverty in Greece to race riots in 1960s Detroit. While each character faces his or her own demons, no one is more troubled than our narrator, whose sexual identity is a source of pain, humiliation, and isolation. Eugenides creates a journey of discovery for the reader, dispelling myths about and endowing humanity to the "freak." One could read this work for its many insights and perhaps I will, too, on a second or third reading. But I loved <i>Middlesex</i> first and foremost as a truly wonderful story told by a master storyteller. — Anne P., Washburn Library
I enjoyed this book immensely. However I'm not sure it would have broad appeal. For starters, it could have been trimmed down by about 150 pages. And secondly, it's a little controversial in many parts. So if you're looking for a great novel that draws on the immigrant experience you might want to skip this one and re-read "I Remember Mama". The one where Mama doesn't marry her brother. That one.
MIDDLESEX is a once-in-a-lifetime book, a novel that spans generations in the style of FRIED GREEN TOMATOES AT THE WHISTLE STOP CAFE but for good reason for it tells the story of a gene abnormality that can be traced back to a tiny village generations ago. This novel is an immigrant story, a Depression survival tale, a love-triangle romance, a triumphant rags-to-riches success yarn, a coming-of-age YA chronicle, a Kerouac-esque road read, and a gender-bending foray into sexual politics and gender identity. But, above all, MIDDLESEX is about family, specifically the Stephanides clan and their rollercoaster trek through life. Everybody has a family and can relate to the ties that bind and sometimes the bonds that break. It's a beautiful story about living honestly; with that honesty comes laughter, deep sorrow, and tender moments. It's one of the best novels I've ever read, profound without pretension. It feels like nonfiction in moments, so raw that a reader is compelled to believe it must stem from reality. I will not delve into the details so as not to ruin what is a spectacular read. Without question, I highly recommend reading MIDDLESEX.
This book was nothing at all like what I was expecting and it continued to surprise me throughout. It captures little moments in history and deals with all kinds of social and political issues but does this within the body of a wonderful story. It is filled with wit and humour. There are so many things to admire about this book but when it comes down to it...it was just a great reading experience.
First half of book was more backstory to the main event -- the life of Callie/Cal. I found the slow first half did not add to the important part of the story focused on her/him.
This novel had everything. It had historical content from several regions of the world. It spanned several generations in an interestingly well written format. It was a coming of age tale. And the research and perspective regarding transgender issues was illuminating.
Middlesex is a magnificent, sweeping novel. The narrator, a transgender person, beautifully describes the history of his family starting in Greece and immigrating to Detroit. The family history is entwined with the history of the places, which Eugenides brings to life. The narrative also explores the human desire to neatly fit people into one gender and the narrator’s struggles to find an identity within a body that is Middlesex.
Enjoyed this very much. That being said, I'm not entirely convinced it needed to be as long as it was, and the digression off into the grandmother's working life in the black neighbourhood of Detroit didn't really add much to the tale as a whole - for me, anyway. It was as well-written as the rest, but I couldn't see what it contributed.... Still - a marvellous read, playful and complicated and human and beautifully written. Something to savour.
In this family saga our narrator Cal describes in great detail the flight of his ethnically Greek grandparents from their native village in Turkey, their subsequent immigration and establishment of a family business in Detroit, and how Cal came to be who he is, in more ways than one.
For a week I was fully absorbed by this mesmerizing book -- absolutely unputdownable and well-deserving of its Pulitzer.
This is a huge book. It spans almost a century in the life of three generations of Greek-Americans, from the grand-parents' life in Asia Minor (Western Turkey) to the narrator's upbringing in Detroit. I learned tons of stuff on the war between Grece and Turkey, the destruction of Smyrna, the Nation of Islam, the 1967 riots in Detroit, and hermaphrodites. Fiction that makes you learn!
Wow, what a surprise. A fabulous read and not at all what I expected. There were times when my love for the novel wavered, but Eugenides successfully pulled these loose threads together one by one to make a wonderful piece of fiction.
For the most part I enjoyed this book, however I found this a slow go, for the last half.
Good read. I actually enjoyed reading the back drop of the book more than the actual subject of the book, if that makes sense. But in the end when everything about the narrator culminates made the book more enjoyable.
This compassionate, heartbreaking and often hilarious story follows a family, and one member of this family in particular, from Greece to North America and back to modern day Europe. You will experience a pang of regret when you come to the end of the book, knowing that you will have to say goodbye to the main character.
This was a fantastic book club read, and if any book clubs have reservations about picking this title, they shouldn't. A great coming of age story about a very unlikely protagonist with some interesting events towards the end. Some members said it was a bit slow at first, but once you stick with it, it is a very hard book to put down. Overall the group really liked this one.
One of my favorite books of all time. This is a thoroughly engrossing story.
A thoroughly engrossing family saga with surprising plot developments, fascinating characters, and intriguing historical detail.
What an amazing book, totally worth the read. I was so sad that this book ended because I got so enthralled with the characters and the story I just wanted to keep reading. Five stars all the way!
Ambitious, compassionate, heartbreaking and often hilarious, this Greek-American epic follows a family from the burning of Smyrna in 1922 by the Turks to suburban Detroit in the seventies. At its heart, a lovable character christened Calliope is transfigured from girl to boy. Along with his rare genetic make-up—the outcome of history and ancestry—Cal has acquired a prescience that grants him the role of family storyteller.
I thought it was fantastic! I love the voice Eugenides gave to Calliope.
I am reading this for the second time and i had forgotten all the intricate detail Eugenides incorporates in this book. It is a fantastic read and so much fun to read if you are from Detroit, the research he puts into this story is incredible. A great read!
An excellent book. As the Ottawa Citizen review indicates a " ... funny, sad, tragic, beautifully rendered..."
I enjoyed this book, though certain elements seemed superfluous, most particularly the parts related to the Nation of Islam. Nonetheless, Eugenides is a clever and engaging writer and I look forward to his next project.
Among my favourite books of all time. It took me two tries to get into this book, but once I was I loved the language and the characters. Highly recommended.