Middlesex (novel)

novel by Jeffrey Eugenides

Middlesex is a 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel written in Berlin by Greek-American author Geoffrey Eugenides. The main themes of the novel are: sociogenetism versus biogenetism, the motif of rebirth; the themes of following the American Dream and exploiting gender roles are also revealed. The novel contains many allusions to ancient Greek mythology, such as the images of the Minotaur (an anthropomorphic creature with the head of a bull) and the Chimera (a creature made up of many parts of other animals).

The book is a bestseller, with over a million copies sold as of March 2011. Despite the fact that the novel is not an autobiography in the strict sense of the word, many small details of the narrative outline were taken from the life of the author himself, which he learned about in the process of studying the Greek part of his ancestry. The idea to create such a work came to Eugenides in 1980 while reading the memoirs of Herculine Barbin (eng. Herculine Barbin: Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a Nineteenth-century French Hermaphrodite), after which he decided to give his own interpretation of the description of the anatomical structure and emotions of intersexes.

Plot change

The narrator and main protagonist of the novel, Cal Stefanidis, originally named "Kalli" (short for "Calliope"), is an intersex male of Greek origin with a 5-alpha reductase deficiency syndrome, as a result of which he is a male with a female appearance (or rather: a character has a female phenotype with a male karyotype).

The first half of the novel tells readers about Cal's family, mainly about the migration of his paternal grandparents to the United States from Bursa, a city in Anatolia, in 1922. What follows is their assimilation into American society in Detroit, Michigan, during the city's industrial boom. The second half of the novel, which is set in the late 20th century, focuses on Cal's life journey in his native Detroit and his subsequent escape to San Francisco, where he settles into his new guise, recognizing his male gender identity.