Posts Tagged ‘hermaphrodites’

10th January
2009
written by Steph
Middlesex

It seems like pretty much everyone in the universe who reads this book (and their moms) loves it.  It won the Pulitzer in 2003 (generally a point in a book’s favor, I would say), but it was also named an Oprah’s book club pick (I don’t want to be a snob, but let’s say that I don’t look to Queen O to dictate my reading habits… I certainly don’t think people should read particular books simply at her say so, but I suppose it would be equally wrong for me to NOT read a book for the same reason).  It’s been sitting on the shelf long enough that I vowed to not be daunted by its 500+ pages any longer. In the end, I’m glad I did, because those pages were immensely readable and wove a very rich tale indeed.  At first glance, Middlesex appears to be the story of a hermaphrodite (lady-man lady!), Cal(liope) Stephanides.  Cal is born with 5-alpha-reductase deficiency, a genetic disorder stemming from a chromosomal mutation.  This results in an insensitivity to testosterone while in the womb, such that Cal is born with the outward appearance of a female; at puberty, however, the influx of testerone causes certain male characteristics to appear.  I found the idea of exploring the nature versus nurture debate with respect to sexual and gender identity through fiction to be a pretty interesting ones and hoped Eugenides would treat the subject with a deft hand. (more…)