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Middlesex

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  498,829 Ratings  ·  20,600 Reviews
Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2003

In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school in Grosse Pointe, 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 physically - leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. I
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Paperback
Published by D. Quixote (first published 2002)
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Caelin Webber Because his brother drives the family business into bankruptcy, Cal refers to him by a specific portion of the US bankruptcy law.
Geraldine apparently, the book's rights were sold to HBO in 2009, with rumors of it being adapted into a one-hour drama series. source: …moreapparently, the book's rights were sold to HBO in 2009, with rumors of it being adapted into a one-hour drama series. source: http://filmschoolrejects.com/features...(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Trina
Jul 29, 2007 Trina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I got off the bus from Bumbershoot around 1 AM, exhausted. Convinced that even the cars speeding past my window couldn’t keep me from this night’s rest, I opened the door to a stench of exceptional vileness. Not a dead stench, or a spoiled food stench. This was the stench of sewage. From a spot in the center of the living room I surveyed the apartment and discovered the source: the commode and the area around it were covered in yuck. I dialed up the landlord. The exchange went something like thi ...more
Peter
Don't judge a book by its cover.

I'd seen this book on the shelves of a number of friends and in the arms of a number of travelers, so I decided to pick it up. The title, "Middlesex", suggested English countryside to me. On the cover was what looked like a steamship, and a quote on the back began "Part Tristram Shanty, part-Ishmael..." So I came to the foolish conclusion that this was some 19th century English seafaring novel. (Typical.)

I couldn't have been more wrong.

Middlesex is the story of a
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Jason
Alright, it’s high time I review this hermaphroditic little masterpiece.

Being a pseudo-biochemist (pseudo in the sense that I only pretend to be a biochemist, whereas in reality I write scientific development reports and other documents that no one will ever read but which I’ve convinced myself are just as fulfilling as doing real science), I find the premise of this novel to be incredibly interesting.

5α-Reductase deficiency is an autosomal recessive disorder; autosomal meaning that the gene cod
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Andrew
Sep 26, 2007 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cassy
This isn’t so much a review as an embarrassing story. I gave the book four stars for a reason. The writing is beautiful. I would recommend it. Now onwards to my shame.

So Brooke and I were standing in line to meet Eugenides. Please understand it was a really long line after a similarly long day at work. We passed the time chitchatting about this and that at our workplace and life in general. By the time the organizer offered post-its* to our segment of the line, we were getting silly and joked ab
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Michael Finocchiaro
Mar 31, 2017 Michael Finocchiaro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is a surprising and wonderfully written story about the life of Calliope/Cal Stephanopolis who in the opening lines "was born twice: first, as a baby girl...and then again as a teenage boy." The subject of hermaphroditism or intersexuality is addressed throughout as the book as a running theme as the cinématographique narrator Cal looks back at his childhood as Calliope and explains his complex incestuous family history from the origins of her grandparents as Greek ...more
Cecily
This is a book about transition.
Transition from child to adult to parent and grandparent.
From native to immigrant.
From brother and sister to husband and wife.
From rural dweller to urbanite.
From modest affluence to poverty and up again.
From loving language to losing the power of speech.
From geek to hippie.
From war through peace to civil unrest.
From belief to unbelief.
From rescued to rescuer.
From moral probity to corruption and crime.
Oh, and one character transitions from female to male.

The last o
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Taylor
May 08, 2007 Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone with an open mind, and even some of those with closed ones.
Mr. Eugenides can do everything, or at least I am convinced of such after reading Middlesex.

I passed on this book for a long time. I kept picking it up in bookstores and putting it down. I've seen quotes from it everywhere, all of which were beautiful, and kept hearing wonderful things about it from friends. To be perfectly honest, what kept me from picking it up in the subject: a hermaphrodite. I think of myself as someone with an open mind, but the thing is that I just wasn't sure if I'd be ab
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Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

The CCLaP 100: In which I read a hundred so-called "classics" for the first time, then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label

Book #15: Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides (2002)

The story in a nutshell:
The tale of "the most famous hermaphrodite in history," Middlesex is the second and lates
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Trevor
Jun 10, 2007 Trevor rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2002
"When I told my life story to Dr. Luce, the place where he invariably got interested was when I came to Clementine Stark. Luce didn't care about criminally smitten grandparents or silkworm boxes or serenading clarinets. To a certain extent, I understand. I even agree."
I agree too. This quote comes from page 263 and is really where the story picks up and gets into the subject the book promises--Cal's life as a hermaphrodite. Honestly, while the first 263 pages were interesting and had some impor
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Jacob
April 2012

Goddammit, Middlesex is beautiful. It's epic. And it's roughly 500 pages too short. That's right--too short. As a sweeping, three-generation epic novel that covers the lives of Calliope's grandparents, parents, and her own childhood before she became Cal, it's a damn near perfect novel. As the story of Cal, post-transformation, it's...sadly lacking. The last quarter of the book is rushed and unsatisfying. It's beautiful anyway, but a few hundred extra pages wouldn't have hurt...

It also
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Kim
Feb 20, 2008 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
This book has all the major players....

Incest, war, teenage girl-on-girl experimental sex, deadheads, undescended testes, and a 2 inch penis.

Yep, it took me all of one chapter to realize that Middlesex was referring to something besides a county in England.

Best Part: Answering Maurice's question "What's that about?" then watching him squirm and cross his legs in obvious pain.

Worst Part: Glaring Oprah sticker on the cover telling me I've succumbed to the masses.
Frankie
Dec 30, 2016 Frankie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, usa, greek
I like books with family stories but it was very dense!

For me the start was really exciting with the grandparents.
The when they got to America it dragged for me. Over abundance of information.
Picked up towards the end again when it was more about Cal's discovery.

I HATED Jeffrey Eugenides other book about the sisters but I really enjoyed this one.
Heartbreaking and so brave.
Jason Koivu
What a big pile of everything this is!

I like books like Middlesex, one's that stretch over generations, capturing historic moments in time from different perspectives and encapsulating an era. But sometimes they can be too busy, and Middlesex is toooo damn busy.

Part of the problem is that the transgender struggles of the main character are plenty of story to work with, so there's no need to tie in an immigration from the motherland tale or set it against the 1960s Detroit riots as a background.
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Fabian
Oct 07, 2014 Fabian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Flawless masterpiece. Ive read hundreds of novels in my day, and this is in the top 3 (On equal shelf with "A Confederacy of Dunces" and "Blonde." (My own personal trifecta perfecta: the best novels of ALL TIME!) Unbelievable, mythic; the stuff from the Gods to anyone with an eye & brain to receive from the way-up up up heights.

This is LIFE AFFIRMING literature that's meant to be treasured.
Suzanne
Nov 22, 2014 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
It goes without saying that this is one amazing book and my first Pulitzer winner as well. I took two weeks to read this one, but this is my issue, as always. I was incredibly inpatient, with a lifestyle that does not do well in relation to not being instantly gratified. This is such a special story, there is no instant anything. It is to be savoured and appreciated, there cannot be any rushing. I think I’m best in this instance to just write about my experience whilst reading this top notch boo ...more
Kelly
Sep 04, 2007 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan Baxter
Jul 05, 2011 Megan Baxter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my second time reading Middlesex, and I have to admit I approached it with some trepidation, wondering if I would enjoy it as much the second time, if I would be as swept up in the story, if, indeed, it would hold up.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Martine
I'm torn on this book. On the one hand, I loved the story, which is, as another reviewer put it, 'the greatest, most incestuous Greek epic since the Iliad'. On the other hand, I had serious problems with some of the writing. I haven't seen my quibbles mentioned anywhere else, so I guess I'm alone on them. Or am I?

In a nutshell, Middlesex is the story of Cal, a Greek American who was born a hermaphrodite and raised as a girl before finally realising he was boy as a teenager. In about five hundred
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Barry Pierce
Jeffrey and I started on very bad terms. I read his Virgin Suicides and well that was an overhyped disappointment. The Marriage Plot is shaping up to be one of the worst books I read this year. So obviously I was apprehensive about starting this. But I did. And I liked it.

What can I say, it’s a good book! Praise the baby Jesus, Jeffrey Eugenides wrote a good book! This is a perfectly fine novel. It held my interest all the way through and I actually wanted to know what happened as the novel prog
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Joe Valdez
Oct 13, 2014 Joe Valdez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
Flying to Detroit for the Fourth of July weekend to visit my brother in Ypsilanti, I was looking for a great novel set in Michigan to read during my travels. Published in 2002, I'm confident that Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides--winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction--would be one of my favorite novels whether I read it in the Wolverine State, in a box or with a fox. This three-generational family saga leaps from Greece to Detroit, across the U.S. and then over the sea to Germany to tell the st ...more
Reckoner
Το Middlesex είναι ένα επικό, αριστουργηματικό έργο που στο πυρήνα του εδρεύει η αλλαγή, η εξέλιξη, η μετάβαση. Σαν τον μεταξοσκώληκα που περνάει από τόσα στάδια για να παράγει το πολύτιμο μετάξι. Σαν τον Λέφτυ και την Δεισδαιμόνα που η καταατροφή της Σμύρνης θα τους αφήσει να ξαναγεννηθούν και να ξαναεφέυρουν τον εαυτό τους όπως εκείνοι θέλουν τώρα που οδεύουν στην Αμερική. Σαν τον Μίλτον και την Τέσσυ που θα περάσουν διάφορα αλλα θα καταλήξουν μαζί αδιαφορώντας για τα πάντα. Σαν την Καλλιόπη π ...more
Stacey
Mar 24, 2008 Stacey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: audiobook lovers
Recommended to Stacey by: audible.com reviews
I've read quite a few reviews of this book saying that it was patchy in places, or it bogged down in the historical parts, the character not being believable in others, etc.

I have not read the novel, so perhaps this is true. As an audiobook however, it was magnificent. The story was compelling, the history inseparable from the development of Calliope, and the voice of the reader - Kristoffer Tabori - was genius. His character variations made an interesting concept into a fascinating narrative o
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Madeline
A storytelling hermaphrodite chronicles his family's history beginning with his grandparent's emmigration from Turkey to the US in the 1920s.
Incest. Mythology. Dysfunctional Greek families. Explosive secrets. Humor in the most unexpected places. Drugs. Sex. Hippies. Riots. Hitchhikers. The Illiad.

WHY AREN'T YOU OUT THE DOOR YET? GO. BOOKSTORE. PURCHASE. READ. YOU'RE WELCOME.
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 01, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006)
Shelves: pulitzer, oprah, ex-1001
Engaging epic of the three generations of a Greek family, the Stephanides. The first generation is composed of siblings, Desdemona and Lefty who leave their country during a political unrest, go to Prohibition-era Detroit and there have an incestuous relationship as husband and wife. Born to them in Detroit are son Milton and daughter Zoe. Milton marries his parent's cousin's daughter, Tessie and move to Michigan. Born to them are son Chapter Eleven and a daughter Calliope or Callie. At 13, Call ...more
Eve
Jan 27, 2014 Eve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, read-2014
Middlesex has been stacked in a pile of books I like to refer to as my "Jumanji" books. The two main child characters in the film Jumanji begin a creepy, larger-than-life board game that results in the "Little Man Tate" boy disappearing, and the the young girl running away in horror, putting an abrupt end to the game. Though stowed away in the attic soon after the occurrence and forgotten, a distant jungle drum beat still emanates from the board game, forever beckoning that someone continue the ...more
Andrew Smith
Jul 16, 2014 Andrew Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An epic story documenting the lives and relationships of three generations of a Greek/Turkish family who are forced to flee their homeland to America as a result of a historic and tragic event. Well, that's more the backdrop than the story - the real deal here is the account of the third generation hermaphrodite: the inter-relationships and secrets that preceded his/her birth and life thereafter.
It's stunningly well written and I found myself constantly looking up words I'd never come across be
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Roya
Dec 02, 2013 Roya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Roya by: Negin
Shelves: favourite
Second Read on 08/01/2016 - 22/01/2016



Years ago, I wasn't allowed to read Twilight. I read it eventually (along with the other books in the series), twice. Did I like them? No, not particularly. All I wanted, as odd as it sounds, was to say, "I can read whatever I want as much as I want and don't have to necessarily become a Bella Swan." In other words, my secret defiance to the normal parental fears. Due to apparent lack of mental maturity on my part and the inappropriate content, I once wasn
...more
Sandi
For some unfathomable reason, I decided to start working Pulitzer Prize winning novels into my regular reading. I'd already read several, and it just seems like a good idea.

Middlesex wasn't exactly what I expected. Heck, I'm not really sure what I expected. What I knew was that the protagonist was a girl who discovered that she was really a boy at the age of 14. What I didn't expect was a warm, loving, often funny family saga. Jeffrey Eugenides quite clearly has a fondness for his Greek heritag
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Caleb Tankersley
I've been lounging around in bed all day today, slobbering on this book like a crushing schoolgirl. I'm reluctant to use the word, but this book is truly "epic," and not in a frat-boy kind of way. I don't want to give anything away, so I won't discuss any plot points. But really, the plot plays second string to Eugenides' style. Never in my life have I read a book so smooth, like a malty drink, like a wet porpoise, like clear mountain air. (so maybe these metaphors aren't apealing, but it's an a ...more
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Jeffrey Kent Eugenides is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer of Greek and Irish extraction.

Eugenides was born in Detroit, Michigan, of Greek and Irish descent. He attended Grosse Pointe's private University Liggett School. He took his undergraduate degree at Brown University, graduating in 1983. He later earned an M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University.

In
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