Jeffrey Eugenides: "Middlesex"

I have wanted to read this Pulitzer-winning Middlesex for at least a year, not only because I had read and liked reading The Virgin Suicides maybe 3 years ago but because the story seemed fantastic. I have always been very fond of marginal people, different lives and I felt that this novel was about a literature-shaping character.

In the end, the story turned out to be even better than "just" the life of a hermaphrodite so that I closed this book knowing that it had made its way into my list of favourites. Middlesex is about Calliope, a child that grows up as a girl and discovers she's a boy in her teens - that is the very basic storyline. But as Calliope herself does not retell her life until the reader has got maybe 60% into the book, the story reveals itself as the story of her Greek family that traces back its origins to a small village in today's Turkey, where their fate is sealed.

Reading along the line of the adventurous migration of the grandparents who flee Smyrna during the Greek-Turkish war to the lovestory of the parents is also reading about Greece and Turkey, about Greeks in America, about America's economical boom, about Ford and immigrants' neighbourhoods in Detroit, about the prohibition and Canada, about self-made-men and recession, about the sixties, about the seventies. About family dynamics.

And about growing up also, as Calliope struggles through puberty. As it is a life changing development that we experience all, one can relate to Calliope so far and feels with her when she gets further into questions that we have been lucky enough not to face. Being a hermaphrodite is less difficult as becoming one and Calliope has to leave her family and her love in order to find Cal, the man who is a good daughter to his mother.

Overall, I immensely enjoyed reading this novel. Eugenides has a fantastic way of telling this story, of using the Greek mythology to soften its corners and leave the readers with a real masterpiece.


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Constantly changing places is inherent to my life. Books have always been steady friends which I could bump into wherever I was all over the world.
Stumbling upon Kaminer's German stories of "Die Reise nach Trulala" in Reykjavík's city library is as moving as meeting the Icelandic sagas in Boston's Borders.
To see a book again, that I've read thousands of kilometers away makes me smile "Hey I know you.." and shake hands by thumbing through it for a while.