As with all book clubs, a great part of the joy of our Imaginary Book Club is reading together and chatting about what we’ve read as a group.
This month, we’re taking a lesson from Oprah and picking one of the most popular books from the past decade. Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex has sold more than three million copies. It’s not an autobiography, but Eugenides’ drew heavily on his own Greek heritage to develop this epic family saga. If you aren’t already familiar with intersex anatomy and the complications of assigned gender, you’re in for some meaningful lessons!
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“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. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license…records my first name simply as Cal.”
So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.
Middlesex is the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.