Jeffrey Eugenides is a New Jersey-based novelist and short story writer.
The Virgin Suicides, Middlesex, The Marriage Plot
2003 Pulitzer Prize; National Book Critics Circle Award (Middlesex)
Which one or two American books or plays would you recommend to the foreign leaders? Briefly, why?
DeTocqueville's Democracy in America, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and Richard Ford's trilogy: The Sportswriter, Independence Day and The Lay of the Land.
In order to understand America, you need to understand three things: its origins, its soul and its trajectory. Democracy in America describes the first; Leaves of Grass delineates the second; and Richard Ford's trilogy sketches the third.
Who in your childhood–for example, parent or teacher—encouraged you to read books, and which one or two books do you remember most fondly?
When I was seventeen, a child by literary standards, my English teacher, Eric Linder, forced me to read Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. How I hated it! But how I love it now! This is what teachers are for: to tell us what we need to read when we don't yet know.
Which books by writers of the other G8 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, Russia) have affected you as a reader and/or been most important to you as a writer?
In my teens, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses by James Joyce; in my twenties, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera, Nabokov's Lolita and Pale Fire, and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Márquez; in my thirties The Information by Martin Amis; in my twenties, thirties, forties, and forever, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy