Jeffrey Eugenides at ACT
Reading a good book is like borrowing a brain better than yours
Jeffrey Eugenides, the American author of Greek descent and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, visited Anatolia College on Tuesday, September 25, where he talked to High School students and American and Greek students of ACT – American College of Thessaloniki. Jeffrey Eugenides visited Greece on the occasion of “Athens 2018 – World Book Capital”, organized by the Municipality of Athens, with the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center and the Embassy of the United States of America. Thessaloniki was the author’s first stop in Greece. He was also invited at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, under the aegis of the American Consulate General in Thessaloniki and the AUTH, where he engaged in a lively dialogue with the audience.
During his visit at Anatolia College the writer of Middlesex, The Virgin Suicides, The Marriage Plot and Fresh Complaint came across an audience in which, as he explained, he specializes, “the adolescents”. “As I’m looking at you all together here, you remind me a lot of my own school. I never forget it and I always write about it.” Eugenides himself was not a good student. When he has a child he wanted to be an actor and, as he mentioned, this is the reason why he always identifies with his characters. When he was 16 years old, he read the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce and he decided to become an author. “I remember my parents’ stunned expression when I told them that I wanted to become an actor. So, when I, later, announced that I’m becoming an author, their reaction was more collected. I advise you to follow the same strategy with your parents”, he said to the students.
While discussing the role of inspiration and the way he works and “constructs” his texts, he emphasized: “I don’t believe in inspiration. I don’t believe in the nicely-made studios. In fact, the smaller and the more uncomfortable the place where you’re writing is, the better the book will be. The only things that I need are isolation and great quantities of coffee”. He also advised the students that are interested in writing to read and write as much as possible “because reading a good book is like borrowing a brain better than yours”.
Jeffrey Eugenides was born in Detroit, on the 8th of March, 1960. His grandfather migrated to America from Asia Minor and his mother is of Irish ancestry. He studied at Brown and Stanford Universities. He received a Pulitzer Prize for his novel Middlesex, which was also on the shortlist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the Prix Médicis. His novel The Marriage Plot(2011) was a runner-up for the National Book Critics Circle Award and received the Prix Fitzgerald and the Grand Prix de l’ héroïne Madame Figaro. In 2014, Eugenides was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His books Middlesex, The Marriage Plot, and Fresh Complaint: Stories, have been published in Greek by Patakis Publishers. His novel, The Virgin Suicides, was adapted into the big screen by Sofia Coppola.