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Jeffrey Eugenides — winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Middlesex — was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1960, the third son of an American-born father whose Greek parents immigrated from Asia Minor and an American mother of Anglo-Irish descent. Eugenides was educated at public and private schools, graduated magna cum laude from Brown University, and received an MA in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University in 1986. Two years later, in 1988, he published his first short story.
His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Yale Review, Best American Short Stories, The Gettysburg Review and Granta's ‘Best of Young American Novelists’. His first novel, The Virgin Suicides, was published in 1993, and has since been translated into fifteen languages and made into a major motion picture. His second novel, Middlesex, was published in paperback in September 2003 and has been selected by Waterstone's as one of their top 100 books of the last 25 years.
Eugenides is the recipient of many awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and The National Foundation for the Arts, a Whiting Writers' Award, and the Harold D. Vursell Award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters. In the past few years he has been a Fellow of the Berliner Künstlerprogramm of the DAAD and of the American Academy in Berlin.
Jeffrey Eugenides lives in Berlin with his wife and daughter.
Author photo © Karen Yamauchi
If you are familiar with Eugenides’ work then these, his first collection of short stories, are probably what you would expect, i.e. not happy. They are about love, envy, regret, desire, illness and death. Only one, Baster, has any humour, albeit black. The rest are about people falling towards ruin or tragedy. Some have intriguing twists but most you must enjoy largely for the fine writing, great atmosphere and deep emotions. One, Air Mail, which has a description of the protagonist’s life slipping away is stunning and very sad. He is a much praised, prize-winning author and these certainly show his ability. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
February 2012 Guest Editor Joanna Trollope on Jeffrey Eugenides... He produces one amazing book every ten years or so…So over twenty years ago, it was The Virgin Suicides (brilliant) and about ten years ago, Middlesex (even better). He is that rare kind of writer who can make you believe, and make you laugh, and move you, and make you think, without apparently, seeming to do very much. I just love his stuff. I only wish he’d write a bit faster…
Ten years on from his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Eugenides delivers a witty, well written and wholehearted coming of age story. Set in the early 80s and described by The Times as ‘One Day with George Eliot thrown in’ The Marriage Plot follows three Brown University students as they navigate life and triangular relationships.
'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, and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family, who travel from a tiny village in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Point, Michigan. To understand why she is not like other girls, Calliope has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns her 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.
'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 Point, 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.
In the spring of 1974, Calliope Stephanides, a student at a girls' school, Grosse Pointe, MI, 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 - leads Callie to suspect that she is not like other girls. The explanation for this shocking state of affairs takes us out of suburbia - back before the Detroit race riots of 1967, before the rise of the Motor City, to 1922, when the Turks sacked Smyrna and Callie's grandparents fled for their lives, back to a tiny village in Asia Minor where two lovers, and one rare genetic mutation, set in motion the metamorphosis that will turn Callie into a being both mythical and perfectly real: a hermaphrodite.Sprawling across eight decades - and one unusually awkward adolescence - Jeffrey Eugenide's long-awaited second novel is a grand, utterly original fable of crossed bloodlines, the intricacies of gender, and the deep, untidy promptings of desire.Winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Audie Award for best unabridged fiction, Middlesex marks the fulfillment of a huge talent, named one of America's best young novelists by both Granta and The New Yorker.
The shocking thing about the girls was how nearly normal they seemed when their mother let them out for the one and only date of their lives. Twenty years on, their enigmatic personalities are embalmed in the memories of the boys who worshipped them and who now recall their shared adolescence: the brassiere draped over a crucifix belonging to the promiscuous Lux; the sisters' breathtaking appearance on the night of the dance; and the sultry, sleepy street across which they watched a family disintegrate and fragile lives disappear.