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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  618,187 ratings  ·  24,845 reviews
Middlesex tells the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City and the race riots of 1967 before moving out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michig ...more
Paperback, 529 pages
Published September 16th 2003 by Picador USA (first published September 4th 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: http://filmschoolrejects…moreapparently, the book's rights were sold to HBO in 2009, with rumors of it being adapted into a one-hour drama series. source:
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  618,187 ratings  ·  24,845 reviews

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Jul 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 14, 2007 added it
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
Emily May
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, 2016
“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.”

I'd heard Middlesex was about a character who was born intersex and raised as a girl - a compelling enough premise on its own - but I didn't realize this book was a rich, complex family drama, spanning multiple generations and featuring heavy subjects like incest, immigration, family secrets and t
Sep 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Oct 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Exactly the flawless masterpiece you've heard it is. I've read hundreds of novels in my day, & this is in the top 3 (On equal shelf with "A Confederacy of Dunces" & "Blonde." (My own personal trifecta perfecta: The THE the best novels of ALL TIME!)) I will never stop lauding this book. 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 for the rest of your blessed life
Michael Finocchiaro
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
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
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
"Some people inherit houses; others paintings or highly insured violin bows. Still others get a Japanese tansu or a famous name. I got a recessive gene on my fifth chromosome and some very rare family jewels indeed."

Let me say first that Jeffrey Eugenides is an extraordinary storyteller! Why I’ve waited so long to read one of his books is beyond me.

Middlesex is an epic multi-generational saga of a Greek family with one of the most engaging narrative voices I’ve come across in quite some time. I
Hmmmmm.... what to say, what to say...

I sometimes go into a book "blind" - to be as unpolluted in my expectations as can be, looking only at the star ratings of my Goodreads friends in order to determine whether I will try a book. I knew only that an overwhelming number of my friends enjoyed it, and that it won the Pulitzer in 2003. Both great reasons for me to pick up this book.

I didn't realise until I looked on the jacket cover that the book was about an individual, Calliope (later, Cal) who
Jun 10, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
ex ovo omnia:  everything comes out of an egg.

Yowsers, there are over twenty thousand reviews of this book on this site alone, so no, cannot say that I’ve read them all, but it does get me to thinking ………..

I enjoyed this book way more than I expected.  And yet my expectations were misinformed by assumptions, most of which were my own, not the least of which was about the title.

Sometimes when reading I feel compelled to slow down, take my time.  Such was the case with this book.  It’s a marathon
2015 view:
Winner 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
. Eugenides incredible way of looking at 'who we are' by recounting three generations of a Greek family that emigrated to the United States, through the eyes of third gender(!) Cal. As ever with Eugenides exceptionally well written, yet accessible - a masterpiece. 9 out of 12

2013 view:
Winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
- Eugenides epic saga of three generations of an American-Greek family as told by Calliope Stephanides, a young person w
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
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, greece, 2016
I like books with family stories but it was very dull at some parts.

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.
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
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. 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
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
New to the world of Jeffrey Eugenides, I turned to this book that was recently recommended to me. Its premise seemed not only intriguing, but an essential topic in this day and age of rebranding and gender fluidity. A story that takes the reader on an adventure like no other, I was hooked from the opening pages until I turned to pen this review. Calliope Helen Stephanides was born twice, once in 1960 and again in 1974. Such a bold statement to open the novel, though one that will make sense at a ...more
Feb 20, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Joe Valdez
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Calliope (Cal) Stephanides, born after World War II, was raised as a girl until the teenage years. Then, at 14, puberty kicked in and Cal matured into a boy.

Doctors found that Cal was a hermaphrodite with male (XY) sex chromosomes, intersex genitals, and a recessive genetic mutation that messes with the sex hormones.

But Cal's story (and genetic troubles) started long before, in 1922, when his Greek grandparents lived in Smyrna, Turkey. Unable to find suitable mates a brother and sister - Desdem
Jason Koivu
Jun 01, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.

Ahmad Sharabiani
Middlesex, 2002, Jeffrey Eugenides

Jeffrey Kent Eugenides (born March 8, 1960) is an American novelist, and short story writer. He has written numerous short stories and essays, as well as three novels: The Virgin Suicides (1993), Middlesex (2002), and The Marriage Plot (2011).

Middlesex is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, first published in 2002. The book is a bestseller, with more than four million copies sold since its publication. Its characters and events are loosely base
When the Turks invade Smyrna, two Greeks, Lefty and her sister Desdemona, embark for America with their little baggage and a recessive chromosome, waiting patiently to wake up. The circumstances are favourable since Lefty and Desdemona profit from landing in an unknown land to live their forbidden passion and marry. Their son marries his cousin. The little Calliope is born, a girl for everyone, although having the gonads of both sexes.
The novel divides into two main parts: the first tells the s
Nov 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-donated
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
Middlesex is Jeffrey Eugenides’ Pulitzer prize winning novel about a hermaphrodite, Calliope Stephanides, the family who made her, and her journey from being her father’s little girl to being his youngest son.

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.

This opening line sets up everything that is to follow, and Eugenides spins what is a difficul
Jun 12, 2022 marked it as to-read
you had me at generational family saga
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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.


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