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Middlesex Paperback – 3 May 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 193 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (3 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747561621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747561620
  • Product Dimensions: 32.8 x 32.8 x 50.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 351,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Middlesex is a significantly more ambitious and much odder novel than Jeffrey Eugenides' resonant debut, The Virgin Suicides (on DVD), which was a bittersweet paean to adolescent love. This is a sprawling family saga, bursting with life, which spans three generations and crosses several continents. At its core, however, is another unorthodox but exquisite coming-of-age story.

The book's wily narrator and central character, Calliope Stephanides (named after the muse of epic poetry) is a hermaphrodite raised as a girl who comes to realise she is happier as a boy and is now living as a man in contemporary Berlin. Cal's tale begins, appropriately enough, in Greece (or more precisely Asia Minor)--an Aegean Strasbourg whose sovereignty is claimed by Greece and Turkey. In 1922 brother and sister Lefty and Desdemona Stephanides escaped their war-torn homeland and arrived, as man and wife, in Detroit, America. It is this coupling that ultimately begets their grandchild Calliope and her ambiguous sexuality, as she, or rather by then he, sanguinely notes:

Some people inherit houses; others painting or highly insured violin bows. Still others get Japanese tansu or a famous name. I got a recessive gene on fifth chromosome and some very rare family jewels indeed.
As Cal recounts the experiences of the Stephanides clan in their new land--from the Depression to Nixon--he unfurls his own symbiotic odyssey to a new sex. Cal's narrative voice is arch, humorous and self aware, continually drawing attention to its authorial sleights of hand, but never exasperating. This is big, brainy novel--The Oracle of Delphi puts in an unlikely appearance in the middle of a teenage tryst--but one full of compassion. Eugenides' astonishingly rich story persistently engages the heart as well as the mind. --Travis Elborough --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Nine years in the writing and worth the wait." -- Elle, October 2002

"This is a truly extraordinary novel based around one brilliantly drawn character." -- Red, October 2002

"a warm and beautifully written novel that illuminates the part of the human soul that even biology cannot reach." -- Sunday Times, October 6th 2002

"one of the best American novels in years. ... a book of wonders and surprises." -- Books Quarterly, September 2002

'A transatlantic epic ... Middlesex isn't just a respectable sophomore effort; it's a towering achievement' -- Los Angeles Times

'Expansive and radiantly generous ... a colossal act of curiosity, of imagination and of love' -- New York Times

'The best American novel since The Corrections ... exuberant, ambitious, deeply compassionate and wildly funny' -- GQ

'This is a truly original and compelling novel, by turns sad, funny and moving' -- Daily Mail

'This year's most sumptuously enjoyable book ... superb' -- Sunday Times Books of the Year

‘Middlesex is a vibrant and rewarding read, … This is an extravagant and thoroughly absorbing story.’ -- Olivia Glazebrook, Telegraph

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Truly an American epic, appropriate given it's a Greek family saga. Every bit of this story captured my interest, and the way the various stories were knitted together made me want to keep reading. This has been one of the best books I've read recently - not just because the story was interesting but for how marvellously crafted and written it was.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The end of the book seems to be random.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very entertaining but also really made me think about the situation the main character was in. Very engaging, worth a read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the best books I've ever read. Really beautiful!
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Format: Hardcover
There is a lot of reading to this one. It's not that it's over-written per se, more that it's over told. It was hard work and I struggled to get through it. For every 100 pages read, it felt like 1000. The author kept going off on tangents, throwing in facts or history which weren't necessary. It was extremely annoying to have to wade through all this extra information while still keeping track of the narrative. It pulled me away from the characters and their stories every time. So much so, that I had to force myself not to skim these sections. It would have been a much faster and a more enjoyable read without the tangents and history lessons.

That being said, I did enjoy the storyline. When the author stuck to the characters and their stories it was an enjoyable read, but way too often it was interrupted by everything else. I wanted to read on to learn what happened to the family. I enjoyed getting to know each generation and seeing how their experiences were influenced by the generation before. Had the book concentrated on this and had all the other stuff removed, I would probably recommend it. As it is, It's not one I would recommend.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This novel has everything fiction through history and a strange story plot really enjoyed reading it. Definitely recommend it to
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Format: Kindle Edition
I read this as it was one of the books on the list of those to read that will change how you think. It was very engaging and tells the story of a Greek family from when ta couple who are not what they seem emigrate to the USA and then follows the family through the generations . the story is narrated by Calliope who was born twice - once as a baby and secondly in an emergency room fourteen years later.

Calliope is born first as a girl but her teen years cause some anxiety and then a shock that changes her life .

I liked the way the book was written and found it an easy read that kept me wanting to know more.

It is quite explicit sexually at times but not in a pornographic way. You feel really emotionally involved in Calliope's story.

I did wonder why he brother was called Chapter Eleven - surely that is tantamount to child abuse!!

They were certainly an original family and it did give an insight into Detroit history too.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a clever work. It flows through generations, backwards and forwards, it takes in conception, birth, childhood, as well as the tenderness and horror of becoming a hermaphrodite in adulthood. It begins in 1922 in Smyrna graphically describing the horror of genocide, humourously moves to the lives of Greek Americans in Detroit as they accept their roles as American citizens. It breaks the rules of fiction writing and succeeds as a unique epic. The kind of enjoyable book that deserves a second-reading, as much to wallow in the descriptions one has had to rush in order to see what happens next, as to appreciate just what a extraordinary family saga this is and to take in all the medical, historical and geographical detail.
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