Book Review: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

MiddlesexMiddlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Middlesex is a story of a Greek family immigrating to America and it further portrays the struggle of the three generations of the family. Narrated by the hermaphrodite Cal, it encompasses three different tales and only the last one particularly features his own life and discovery.

Positive points:

1. The immigrant story is really well done. The tale of Cal’s grandparents who migrate from Turkey is a gripping tale of incest relationship and the scenario of an area plagued by war. When coming to America, it unfolds into their struggles coping up with the American culture and setting. This first tale which covers the first half of the book makes a very interesting read.

2. The character sketch is dynamic. The author has carefully laid down lives of different characters at different points of their lives. They develop with time.

3. The setting of the novel, the background story and the narration in the present tense make a full circle in the end. Though it might seem a little fragmented at times, some patience would be required to keep up with all the incidents happening in different time frames.

4. The writing style of the author is worth praising. The language is not fanciful. It is simple and successfully romanticizes the entire story.

Negative points:

1. The book’s description is quite misleading which turns out to be a major negative point. By description, one would suppose that the story of the hermaphrodite and his realization would be the main focus point of the story but it is not very much so. Though the narrator makes statements of his personal life at times but that doesn’t mark the story in any significant way. The story is more about the difficulties of immigrants in the US, with a few glimpses into racial problems and the beginning of a modern America and its influence on the youth.

2. The anecdotes regarding the muses are just distracting. They are written to entice the reader but rather, they have a sort of repelling effect. They break the flow of the story. Along with that, some other circumstances which are not important to the whole story could have better been avoided.

3. The conclusion of the story is haphazardly done and it is way too dramatic. The last two chapters particularly sets down the mood and it doesn’t provide a satisfactory end.

Thus, the novel is really good if it is read on the basis of the immigrant struggle but if one is looking for insight into hermaphroditic life, this novel wouldn’t be sufficient because it is certainly lacking in that regard. I would suggest the fans of the historical fiction to give it a try. It makes quite an interesting read after all.

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