Genital Autonomy in Literature

Jeffrey Eugenides: Middlsex


It all starts in a mountain village in Asia Minor. A young man and a young woman, brother and sister, flee from the Turks to Smyrna and, as the city burns, to America. It is 1922. They marry on the ship and later settle in the motor city of Detroit. No one suspects the secret of this couple, but decades later their breaking of taboos has unexpected consequences.


received the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 and was included in the BBC's selection of the best 20 novels from 2000 to 2014 in 2015.

Original Edition: “Middlsex”, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York 2002 (engl.)

ISBN: ISBN 0-374-19969-8

Waris Dirie: Desert Flower


Although she suffered a genital mutilation at the age of five that had lifelong consequences, Waris Dirie fled her home in Galkayo, Somalia, to Mogadishu to escape an arranged marriage. She moved to London with relatives, worked at McDonald's for a while and was discovered by chance by fashion photographer Terence Donovan. She continued to work as a model for film and fashion and was eventually considered a supermodel. At this point she wrote her autobiography with Cathleen Miller. Shortly afterwards, she became a UN ambassador for the abolition of FGM.

The book, which describes Dirie's genital cutting, her adventurous escape through the Somali desert and her rise to become a world-famous supermodel, becomes an international bestseller and is published in over 50 licensed editions. Over 11 million copies have been sold worldwide to date.

Original Edition: “Desert Flower” William Morrow Pub, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-688-15823-1

Adaptions: Film (2009), Musical (2020)

Gary Shteyngart: Little Failure. A Memoir.

Gary Shteyngart
This story of a boy who is tenderly called "little failure" by his parents because they love him dearly but don't quite believe in his happiness and success in life is a book delightfully rich in human insight and emotion - full of humour, even though the family doesn't have much to laugh about because of Hitler and Stalin and everyday hardships pile up like mountains. A touching and at the same time funny childhood story: gripping, masterful and - since it is Gary Shteyngart's own story - also true. This truth includes the detailed account of how his penile foreskin was cut off after his family immigrated to the USA: "To this day, I cringe at the sight of a bare razor blade. I know what it can do to an eight-year-old boy."

Original Edition:‎ “Little Failure. A Memoir.” Random House, New York 2014

ISBN: 978-0-679-64375-3