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Jeffrey Eugenides Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Virgin Suicides (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
Middlesex (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Marriage Plot (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

Fresh Complaint (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Granta 54: The Best of Young American Novelists(1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Brown Reader(2014)Description / Buy at Amazon

Jeffrey Kent Eugenides is a short story writer and novelist from Detroit in the United States. His debut novel was “The Virgin Suicides” that was published in 1993 to great acclaim. Jeffrey was born in Detroit, Michigan to a mother of Irish-English ancestry and a father with Greek descent. He would attend University Liggett School at Grosse Pointe, before proceeding to Brown University, where he studied English under his hero John Hawkes. After graduating from Brown University, he took a year’s sabbatical backpacking in Europe and volunteering in Calcutta, India with Mother Teresa. He would later join Stanford University from where he got his M.A in creative writing.

Jeffrey Euginedes had always known that he was destined to be an author from a very young age. After reading “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” in junior high, he very strongly identified with Stephen Dedalus, who had an ancient Greek name, was good in academics, bookish, and had a varied parentage just like him. At the time he thought that being an author was one of the best things once could ever be. It seemed to be an almost religious and holy thing in the young author’s mind. His very earliest influences included the great modernists of the time such as Faulkner, Proust, and Joyce. These would make way for the likes of John Barth, Pynchon, Woolf, and Musil among others. Euginedes believes that his generation was taught literature backward, given they read experimental writing before they graduated to the modernist and post-modernist literature that were mostly a reaction to the former.

The author was raised in Detroit, Michigan a city that he asserts has had a profound influence on much of his writing. He believes that his experiences of the city during his childhood and high school years mirror most of American history of the period. The economics of the automobile industry that led to the assembly line, the scars of racism, the rise of music labels and genres such as techno, house, and Motown all happened during this time. In 1986, his short story “Here Comes Winston” won him the Sciences Nicholl Fellowship and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts award. He would live for a few years in San Francisco before moving to Brooklyn, New York, where he worked for the Academy of American poets as a secretary. After winning the German Academic Exchange Service grant in 1999, he moved to Berlin for the five years from 1999 to 2004. Since 2007, he has been living in Princeton, New Jersey where he teaches Creative Writing at Princeton University.

Born in 1960 Detroit, Euginedes lived in the city at the height of its glory years when it was the capital of the American automobile industry. His first two titles Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides are set in Grosse Pointe and the Detroit suburbs where he lived for much of his childhood and youth. The contrasted settings of affluent suburbs and the once proud but now decaying city are characterized in such vivid colors in the novel, particularly the inextricable links between them. “The Virgin Suicides” tells the story of the gruesome deaths of the five sisters is set in Grosse Pointe, as told from the perspective of their would be suitors. Euginedes took an audacious gamble in writing “The Virgin Suicides” in the first person plural and “Middlesex” as an intersex person. Stephanides Callie was born and raised as a girl, but after a hard puberty goes to a gender reassignment specialist who helps her on the journey to become and live as a man. The author explains the genetics, biology, and sociology of the intersex Cal by revisiting and reconstructing her childhood memories and family history, that stretches from 1920s Turkey right to the boom age of automobile age Detroit. The novel “Middlesex” won the Pulitzer Prize and was chosen as a reader for the Oprah Book Club in 2007, which further served to make the author a household name. By this time, he was writing another classic “The Marriage Plot”, an autobiographical novel dramatizing the collision of New Criticism and radical French theory during his years at Brown University.

“The Virgin Suicides”, Jeffrey Euginedes debut novel is a classic humorous, haunting, yet tender story of five suburban girls that commit suicide. In writing that is more poetic that novel like, Euginedes tells the story in the first person plural leaving out the first names of the narrators. In a metaphor that represents the disintegration of the modern suburban neighborhood, the deaths of the girls represent the decline and decay of the city. What makes the novel so shocking is that the girls seem so normal when for the first time; their mother lets them out of the house to go on their first dates. Two decades later their memories, which were seared into the memories of the five teenage boys that adored them, are recalled in a moving tale of shared adolescence. Their breathtaking appearance on dance night and the sleepy sultry street that was the setting for a family scarred and disintegrating from the unexplained suicide of five daughters makes for a dreamlike novel.

Euginedes’s second novel “Middlesex” tells the tale of Caliope who discovers that she likes being a male more than female. Stretching out across three generations of Greek immigrants in the US, it is the story of the social and incestuous history of Cal’s family. Spanning nearly a century, it starts out in the mountains of 1920s Greece as the Stephanides family goes from a poor family crossing the Atlantic, and battles its way to prominence in Grosse Pointe Michigan. Incorporating the history of the times from World War II to the decline of Detroit, the novel is a societal lens that stretches back decades. Looking at the lives of persons from different spheres of life, its focus is often as narrow just as it is broad. The Stephanides family participates and responds to the cultural, social, and political demands in a small Greek enclave, endure, and survive the nation as it battles World War II and prohibition, the revolution of the sixties and the idealism of the fifties. Even as it is a reflection of the conflicts the country has had to endure, it is more about a family facing up to the secrets of its present and past.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Jeffrey Eugenides

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