Today is the birthday of novelist Jeffrey Eugenides (books by this author) born in Detroit, Michigan (1960), who won the Pulitzer Prize for his book Middlesex (2002), which is about the life of an intersex person.
He began writing seriously after spending a year volunteering with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. At one time, he thought he might become a Trappist monk, but the life didn’t suit him. He said, “I was scared and lacked charity.” He’d been enamored of Marcel Proust and Virginia Woolf and decided to be a writer because “it seemed to promise maximum alertness to life. It seemed holy to me, and religious.”
His first novel, The Virgin Suicides (1993), is about the lives of the teenaged Lisbon sisters, who all commit suicide. Eugenides says he was inspired by a conversation he had with his nephew’s babysitter, who confessed she and her sisters had all contemplated suicide. The book sold slowly at first, and then became a best-seller and later a film starring Kirsten Dunst, directed by Sofia Coppola. The Virgin Suicides is now one of the most shoplifted books in the world. He’s also written the novel The Marriage Plot (2011).