Pulitzer Prize, Fiction, 2003In 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.
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©2002 Jeffrey Eugenides; (P)2002 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC
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)
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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.
My usual reading fare are mysteries, ie., Harry Bosh, Hercule Poirot, so when I started listening to "Middlesex" I wasn't sure I'd bother even downloading the next two tapes. However, the narrator had a way of capturing my reluctant attention. The interwinding of the past and present was done with such finesse that I barely noticed the flawless seams. The charactors were actually visible in my minds eye even though I did not always care for them. Although it is still not the "type" of book I would probably ever read again, I've found this one to be of excellent quality with superb narration.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
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.
And maybe this is damning with faint praise, but I thought this was a good book, not a great book. I would offer five stars only to a classic, and I think "Middlesex" unlikely to become one. The scope of the book was amazing, the characters well developed, and the story lines neatly tied up. It is a very handsome package, but not exactly a great gift.
For a book of its length, the listener should love the narrator. I found this one good at interpreting the characters and giving them distinctive voices, but occasionally over-the-top in his delivery -- sometimes even grating. I felt in some chapters that I was being harrangued -- not led -- through the narrative.
Still it is a gratifying glimpse into several subcultures and multiple time periods. It is well worth listening to, but hard to compare to Virginia Woolf's "Orlando" (as many do) except in the most literal aspects of the main character's sexuality. Whether this is literary fiction or just good best seller writing, I do not know.
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.
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!
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
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!
Wonderful listening. Reading the summary I was somewhat apprehensive that the story might verge on a freak show: not so. Eugenides' characters, descriptions, historical details and revelations create a fascinating epic. Kristoffer Tabori's narration brings it all alive and merges so well with the printed word. He gives all of the characters a freshness and individuality, each with their own distinctive voice, no matter what their gender, accent or age. The best narration I've found so far. I hated for it to end.
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.
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.
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