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Middlesex | [Jeffrey Eugenides]

Middlesex

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. In fact, she is not really a girl at all.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: A Pulitzer Prize guarantees a great story; an Audie Award guarantees a captivating narration - Middlesex has both, plus Oprah's stamp of approval to boot. But for this essentials list, it's the Audie that carries the most weight, and Kristoffer Tabori is most deserving of this prize. He makes this generation-spanning saga an effortless listen, using unique characterizations to seamlessly weave the past and the present. Absolutely captivating. —Diana Dapito

Publisher's Summary

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. In fact, she is not really a girl at all.

The explanation for this shocking state of affairs is a rare genetic mutation - and a guilty secret - that have followed Callie's grandparents from the crumbling Ottoman Empire to Prohibition-era Detroit and beyond, outlasting the glory days of the Motor City, the race riots of 1967, and the family's second migration, into the foreign country known as suburbia. Thanks to the gene, Callie is part girl, part boy. And even though the gene's epic travels have ended, her own odyssey has only begun.

Spanning eight decades - and one unusually awkward adolescence - Jeffrey Eugenides' long-awaited second novel is a grand, original fable of crossed bloodlines, the intricacies of gender, and the deep, untidy promptings of desire.

Check out more selections from Oprah's Book Club.

©2002 Jeffrey Eugenides; (P)2002 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC

What the Critics Say

Audie Award Winner, Fiction (Unabridged), 2003

" "Impressive [and] wonderfully engaging." (The New York Times)
"Eugenides proves that he is not only a unique voice in modern literature but also well versed in the nature of the human heart. Highly recommended." (Library Journal )
"A towering achievement...a story that manages to be both illuminating and transcendent...[Eugenides] has emerged as the great American writer many of us suspected him of being." (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
"Not only are his interpretations of the characters astonishingly credible, but his internalization of the narrative is nothing short of amazing." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (6596 )
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  •  
    Wendy VANCOUVER, WA, United States 06-02-03
    Wendy VANCOUVER, WA, United States 06-02-03 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "One of the best books ever"

    My boss insisted I listen to this book IMMEDIATELY - she wanted to share it and discuss it. It is a book you loathe coming to an end because each character is fascinating and the story so rich in details, truth, and humor.
    Even without the hinge of the character's hermaphroditism, this is a great story with unforgettable characters and scenes - from the grandparents falling in love and escaping from Turkey to the parents upward mobility to the true-to-life teen angst. The author captures exactly what it was like to be a girl in the 1970's - right down to the shampoo, bath powder, etc.
    The reader is a likewise a true talent, he brings to life each character - I loved listening to him.
    If the hinge of the story puts you off, don't let it. This is not an "issues" book, although by the end you will have a deep appreciation of intersexed individuals. And you will have enjoyed the most entertaining book I have listened to - EVER.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Yamhill, OR, United States 06-01-12
    Robert Yamhill, OR, United States 06-01-12 Member Since 2015

    Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow, Absolutely outstanding"

    Wow, I loved this book. I was at first put off by what I thought was the subject of the book’s material and, while I am always loathe to give away too much in a review about book, its content is not a lurid description about deviant sex. This is a love story about an unusual relationship between a brother and sister that probably results in an unusual offspring two generations later. While the title of the book, Middlesex, describes a place, it is also a play on words that describes that third generation intersex offspring.

    Middlesex won the Pulitzer Prize-winning and, I believe, rightfully so. Though not intersex himself, the book is apparently loosely based on aspects of the author's life and observations of his Greek heritage with occasional allusions to Greek mythology. The book is less about sexual acts but instead, it more explores elements of gender identity. The author’s source of inspiration for the novel was Herculine Barbin, the diary of a 19th-century French convent schoolgirl who was intersex. However, this aspect of the book does not come to light till nearly its middle and all does not become completely clear till its end. The end, which at first, seemed to be somewhat rushed.

    I will not continue to reveal more about the book for it is the unfolding of circumstances that helps to make this such a wonderful read. The book is well-written, exciting and never crude or again, lurid. The book is written with a sensitivity and compassion that should attract nearly any reader. Reviewers from the medical, gay, and intersex communities have mostly praised Middlesex and I cannot adequately do so here, again without giving away too much. Suffice it to say this is a wonderful book worthy of anyone’s read.

    While outwardly only one, I believe that each of us contains within us aspects of both genders. Often we deny one and cling to the other. For some of us however, because of some variable in nature, we find our identity quite ambiguous if at all even possible to glean a difference.

    While there is not always agreement on a definition or on what constitutes intersex, it is estimated that between 0.1% and 0.2% of live births are ambiguous enough to become the subject of specialist medical attention, including surgery to disguise their sexual ambiguity. The subject of surgery to “correct” this condition becomes an important part late in the book. I think that it is one of the most important parts of the book and again, it is treated with the greatest of sensitivity and compassion found elsewhere throughout its content.

    The book is especially well-narrated. At no time in the listening did I ever feel that the narrator was anyone else but the person about whom this book was written.

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melinda Shoreline, WA, United States 11-04-09
    Melinda Shoreline, WA, United States 11-04-09

    I love literary fiction and I occasionally delve into non-fiction. I love books that are suspenseful and am really into well-told stories.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Read this book in print"

    I absolutely LOVED this book. The characters are so human, gloriously flawed to perfection and unforgettable. I did not like the narration though. It is so overacted that it's ridiculous and I was distracted from the beauty of the words by Kristoffer Tabori. If another edition comes out, then maybe try it, but there are these strange musical interludes that cover up to words and don't fit in with the story at all. Sometimes, the music just pops up in the middle of a sentence for NO reason. It was highly distracting. With a different narrator and no music this audio book would have been a home run, 5 stars and so much more enjoyable. While there are some readers I would go to over and over again, I will avoid another book read by Tabori. In a few years, I intend to revisit this wonderful work by Jeffrey Eugenides in print to see if it is a better experience (I just don't see how it couldn't be!) and I will read everything this author writes. So, I had to take a star away for the terrible narration and production. Hopefully they won't try to make this book into a movie...because I get the feeling that it just wouldn't work. If you are at all interested in reading this Pulitzer prize winning novel I would urge you to get it in print!

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Memphis, TN, United States 01-20-05
    Susan Memphis, TN, United States 01-20-05 Member Since 2013
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    "Grating Narrator"

    I found the narrator's characterizations so annoying I couldn't finish this book. His female voices were shrill and the ethnic voices sounded like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

    I'm a patient reader but the story took too long to get to Cal's own story.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Native Texan 10-03-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I wish I'd liked it better..."

    I wish I'd liked it better but I found it really slow going and often I just honestly didn't feel anything for the characters or care what happened to them. When a book wins a major award you feel you should give it a chance, right? It certainly sounded like an interesting premise and I was prepared to enjoy it so I kept on listening beyond when I would have otherwise given up. All books aren't for all people so maybe this is a great author but this particular book is just not for me. Listen to the sample and decide if you like what you hear before you select this book.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tony 09-15-03
    Tony 09-15-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Other people's skeleton closet"

    Excellent book. Of course, the reader is what makes it so good. Upon completion of this audio book, you will have received a lesson in Greek history, human physiology, and psychology. It is a little boring at the beginning, but when you get on the boat with yaya and papoo, you will start to experience one of the best audio rides you have ever taken. I've listened to about 100 audio books and this one ranks in my top 10!

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ella toronto,, Ontario, Canada 06-04-07
    Ella toronto,, Ontario, Canada 06-04-07 Member Since 2013

    Knowledge is knowing the way. Wisdom is looking for an alternative, more interesting road to get there. Audiobooks are that road.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not exactly what I expected"

    I thought this book was going to be about a hermaphrodite. Although it was, the story involving Calliope Stephanides the main character in the book does not really come into play till approximately the last quarter of the book.
    Instead, the book is a saga, starting back from Cal's grandparents and their journey out of Europe and to the US where Cal's parents come into play and finally Cal and his brother become part of the book. The journey is a fascinating one and quite enjoyable.
    The narrator Kristoffer Tabori did a marvelous job reading and acting out this novel. It was long, but a good story, a difficult subject that was handled well.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer MD USA 06-05-03
    Amazon Customer MD USA 06-05-03 Member Since 2012

    12th year using Audible and while what I listen on changes over the years - the service and stories do not. Have over 400 titles in my library and Audible has helped me stay sane for 12+ years on my daily commute - I almost hope for traffic delays

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Different BUT well worth the time!"

    Obviously - a quick read of the synopsis of this book will either turn people away or draw them in -- those who turn away will miss a fascinating story while those drawn in are about to reap a large reward!

    The story is multi-leveled and does NOT over-focus on the "sex" angle and, in doing so, makes that part of the story even more real and touching. The narration is great as well -- add this to your cart and you won't be sorry!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Corey voorhees, FL, USA 02-04-09
    Corey voorhees, FL, USA 02-04-09
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    "Interesting"

    I bought this book thinking it would be erotic, but it was not that at all. It was very interesting and I am glad I read it. But exciting, I would not call it, nor would I call it dry. I would best describe it as interesting and worth a read.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Buffalo Grove, IL, USA 04-09-04
    William Buffalo Grove, IL, USA 04-09-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    "Too slow for my tastes"

    I read all the positive reviews and thought this was a can't miss listen. However, after 4 hours into it and several attempts, I just couldn't stay awake or pay attention. The character development was too slow for me. I didn't care for the fact that the author had to relive the past of the main character and "his" parents, grandparents, in excruciating detail. If you are the type that enjoys slow moving in-depth character development, this is the book for you. Otherwise, try something a little shorter in the abridged section.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
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