An incestuous relationship between a pair of Greek siblings, consummated on a ship fleeing to the US from the Turkish raid at the beginning of the century, resulted in a pair of recessive genes finally reunited in a hermaphrodite of a grandchild (with a science geek turned John Lennon wannabe for an older brother).

Unlike, say, T.C. Boyle’s The Inner Circle with its fictionalised portrayal of Kinsey’s research (too Jackie Collins-esque) or Michel Houellebecq’s Atomised or Platform (too much name dropping and hatred of the world dripping from every page), Eugenides wrote sympathetic and humane portrayals of a tumultuous century, of three generations of immigrants, of the so-called multiculturalism and gender diversities (and the politics of sexology), of people and their flaws.

Some of the coincidences described were rather too incredulous, and the narrative does get uneven sometimes with cringe-worthy moments.  Unfortunately, neither is the transition from female to male, the feelings and the confusion, accorded enough attention. But all things considered, it’s a captivating, sympathetic portrayal of a coming-of-age and generational, family problems suitable for young adults.

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Founding director, c2o library & collabtive. Currently also working in Singapore as a Research Associate at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS). Opinions are hers, and do not represent/reflect her employer(s), institution(s), or anyone else with whom she may be remotely affiliated.

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