Middlesex, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


`I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974.'So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and her truly unique family secret, born on the slopes of Mount Olympus and passed on through three generations.Growing up in 70s Michigan, Calliope's special inheritance will turn her into Cal, the narrator of this intersex, inter-generational epic of immigrant life in 20th century America.Middlesex won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.


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Review by

I was worried that Pulitzer Prize-winning would mean worthy but boring. Happily, I couldn't have been more wrong. This is the warm and funny story of Cal. The man who grew up as a girl, Callie, because of a genetic mutation affecting the way XY foetuses develop. 41 year-old Cal traces the history of that genetic mutation back to 1922, spilling the beans on some astonishing family secrets along the way. Cal’s identity is shaped by being raised as a daughter, by being the grandchild of refugees from Smyrna, by growing up in Detroit's Greek-American community during Motor City’s rise and decline and by moving to its WASP-ish suburbs in the 1970s, just before puberty changes everything. And Middlesex? That's just the name of the family’s sub-Frank Lloyd Wright suburban house. The one notably lacking in closets.

Review by

This is a book that lives up to the hype. At it's core is the story of Calliope/Cal, a hermaphrodite raised as a girl who discovers her sexuality is more complex during adolescence. The bigger canvas is a family story of Greek immigrants who escape Turkey in the 1920s to make a new life in Detroit. The narrative voice is moving, powerful and often humorous. Comic set pieces and sections that are almost magic realist are mixed up with darker historical elements and an explanation of the social and medical history of the various forms of hermaphroditism. One final aside for English readers - this book has nothing whatsoever to do with London.

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