Jeffrey Eugenides | The Virgin Suicides & Fresh Complaint

Acclaimed writer Jeffrey Eugenides sits down with Paris Review editor Emily Nemens to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of his debut novel, “The Virgin Suicides,” and introduce his latest short story collection, "Fresh Complaint."

“The Virgin Suicides” announced the arrival of a major new American novelist. In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters—beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys—commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, “The Virgin Suicides” is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.

Jeffrey Eugenides was born in Detroit. His first novel, “The Virgin Suicides,” was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux to great acclaim in 1993, and he has received numerous awards for his work. In 2003, he received the Pulitzer Prize for his novel “Middlesex” (FSG, 2002), which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and France’s Prix Médicis. “The Marriage Plot” (FSG, 2011) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and won both the Prix Fitzgerald and the Madame Figaro Literary Prize. In 2017, FSG published his first collection of stories, “Fresh Complaint.” Eugenides is the Lewis and Loretta Glucksman Professor in English and American Letters at New York University. He has been elected to both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Emily Nemens joined The Paris Review as editor in the summer of 2018. Stories published during her tenure at The Southern Review were selected for the Pushcart Prize anthology, Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Prize anthology, and the inaugural edition of PEN America Best Debut Fiction. Her debut novel, “The Cactus League,” is forthcoming from FSG, and her stories can be found in The Iowa Review, The Gettysburg Review, and n+1.

Since its founding in 1953, The Paris Review has been America’s preeminent literary quarterly, dedicated to discovering the best new voices in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. The Review’s renowned Writers at Work series of interviews is one of the great landmarks of world literature. Hailed by the New York Times as “the most remarkable interviewing project we possess,” the series received a George Polk Award and has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. The magazine introduced readers to Jack Kerouac, V.S. Naipaul, and Ha Jin, and featured early stories by David Foster Wallace, Denis Johnson, and Jeanette Winterson.