Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)

This morning I finished Jeffrey Eugenides’s 2002 novel Middlesex, and I’d say it’s one of the best novels I’ve read in recent years.  Just a pleasure to read a chapter at a time, no rush.  It’s pretty long at 530 pages hardcover, and is a great family epic as told by a hermaphrodite character born in 1960 who reaches a crisis point at age 14.  But much of the book is about the character’s grandparents and parents and their life in Detroit.  Highly recommended!

Here’s a bit from a Powell’s interview done in 2002 with Eugenides:

At the same time, it’s a family story and more of an epic. I needed the third-person. I tried to give a sense that Cal, in writing his story, is perhaps inventing his past as much as recalling it. He might make claims that he has a genetic memory or that he knows things, but there are a lot of tip-offs to the reader that he’s making it up. He needed to tell the whole story to explain his incredible life to himself. He knew a lot about his grandparents — and perhaps he feels he’s been endowed with abilities to go into people’s heads who are long dead — but, to a certain extent, he’s making it up. It took me a long time to let myself do that.

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