Author Jeffrey Eugenides was born and raised in Detroit, so it’s fitting that two of his most noteworthy novels—Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides—take place in Metro Detroit.
Middlesex won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2003 and was turned into a movie by director Sofia Coppola. The film adaptation starred Kirsten Dunst as one of the ill-fated sisters growing up in the 1960s.
Eugenides’ work is maybe best understood through the lens of complication—complication of identity, complication of self, complication of sex and love and gender.
As much as his novels do that work, his short stories delve deeply into these questions in shorter, but sometimes more piercing, ways.
Eugenides joined Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson during that visit and spoke about his seminal works and career as a writer.
He says when he started as a novelist he was trying to write about places he wasn’t familiar with.
“When I started writing The Virgin Suicides…it was the first time I wrote about Detroit,” says Eugenides. “I wrote about my neighborhood and it really changed my writing. It actually was the first thing I wrote that anybody was interested in because, you know, suddenly I was in possession of a lot of knowledge. The atmosphere came back. The history came back. All the feelings of those times came back.”
Click on the audio player for the full conversation.
This conversation first aired on Detroit Today on October 23, 2018.