Biography of Jeffrey Eugenides

Much like his character Calliope Stephanides, Jeffrey Eugenides was born to a Greek-American family in Grosse Pointe, a wealthy suburb of Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Brown University magna cum laude and got his Masters degree from Stanford in English and Creative writing. He is currently a professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University and he has received many awards for his work, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, a Whiting Writers’ Award, the Henry D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Pulitzer Prize.

Much of Eugenides' work is set in Detroit, including both Middlesex and his earlier novel, The Virgin Suicides. Eugenides grew up during the slow demise of Detroit, and remembers it as almost an elegiac feeling, which comes across in both novels. Although conscious of the fact that the suburbs were not considered dignified literary subjects, Eugenides eventually embraced his past and realized that the suburbs are often just as interesting locations as some other "exotic" locales. He draws many elements from his past, including the struggle of classism he experienced in Grosse Pointe. Eugenides' narrative risks paid off, and many adult demographics have responded to his novels very enthusiastically - Oprah even placed Middlesex on her book club list.

Eugenides claims that he has always been a voracious reader and that he began his journey reading Modernists and Postmodernists like James Joyce, William Faulkner, Virginia Woolf, and Thomas Pynchon, but he has since started reading more classical texts like Leo Tolstoy and Henry James. As a writer, Eugenides is verbose and often experimental: his novels are marked by unusual narrators, from the first person plural ("we") in The Virgin Suicides to the often omniscient and detached first person intersex narrator in Middlesex. Eugenides considers himself a slow and deliberate writer, often editing a section repeatedly until it feels right. This may be why, as of 2013, Eugenides has only published three novels: the two mentioned above and The Marriage Plot.

Study Guides on Works by Jeffrey Eugenides

Middlesex, published in 2002 by Jeffrey Eugenides, is the story of Cal Stephanides, an intersex person born in 1960 to a Greek-American family living in a wealthy suburb of Detroit. Thanks to a recessive gene passed down by his inbred family, Cal...