Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mothers death in childbirth and their fathers disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politicstheir passion for the same womanthat will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to himnearly destroying himMarion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.
An unforgettable journey into one mans remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.
As a bookseller, I live for novels like Cutting for Stone - big, fat,
beautiful novels as beguiling and enchanting as babies, as wise and as generous
as old sages. They are the bread-and-butter novels I can't wait to sell, the
books people talk about all year long, the books they buy for their sisters and
fathers, the book they press into the hands of friends with insistent, almost
violent exhortations. Read this. You will love it. You HAVE to read this
book.(Reviewed by Lucia Silva).
The Houston Chronicle - William Cobb
The novel is a bit of a potboiler, full of minor characters who have significant roles in plot twists, and that fuels in part its excessive length and numerous digressions.
San Francisco Chronicle - Meghan Ward
An epic tale about love, abandonment, betrayal and redemption, Verghese’s first novel is a masterpiece of traditional storytelling. Not a word is wasted in this larger-than-life saga that spans three countries and six decades
The Washington Post Book World - W. Ralph Eubanks
Masterful ... Verghese’s gripping narrative moves over decades and generations from India to Ethiopia to an inner-city hospital in New York, describing the cultural and spiritual pull of these places. . . . Even with its many stories and layers, Cutting for Stone remains clear and concise.
The ambition is laudable, but too often accounts of operations—a bowel obstruction here, a vasectomy there—overwhelm the narrative. Characterization suffers.
Library Journal - Jim Coan
This novel succeeds on many levels and is recommended for all collections.
Starred Review. Lauded for his sensitive memoir My Own Country, Verghese [now] turns his formidable talents to fiction, mining his own life and experiences in a magnificent, sweeping novel that moves from India to Ethiopia to an inner-city hospital in New York City over decades and generations.... Verghese's weaving of the practice of medicine into the narrative is fascinating even as the story bobs and weaves with the power of the best 19th-century novels.
Abraham Verghese has always written with grace, precision and feeling [but] he’s topped himself with Cutting for Stone . . . . A vastly entertaining and enlightening book.
Absolutely fantastic! Holy cow, this book should be a huge success. It has everything: nuns, conjoined twins, civil war, and medicine–I was thinking that if Vikram Seth and Oliver Sacks were to collaborate on a four-hour episode of Grey's Anatomy set in Africa, they could only hope to come up with something this moving and entertaining ... A marvelous novel!
Pauline W. Chen, author of Final Exam
A marvelous novel. To read the first page of Cutting for Stone is to fall hopelessly under the spell of a masterful storyteller; and to try to close the book thereafter is to tear oneself away from the most vivid of dreams. Cutting for Stone is a gorgeous epic tale, suffused with unforgettable grace, humanity and compassion. Verghese breathes such life into his characters that there is a poignant familiarity to them, one that lingers and haunts long after the dream is over. Verghese has once again set the bar and re-defined great medical literature–great literature period–for the rest of us.
Atul Gawande Cutting for Stone is a tremendous accomplishment. The writing is vivid and thrilling, and the story completely absorbing, with its pregnant Indian nun, demon-ridden British surgeon, Siamese twins orphaned and severed at birth, and narrative strands stretching across four continents. A tale this wild is perilous, but there is not a false step anywhere. Accomplished non-fiction writers do not necessarily make accomplished novelists, but with Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese has become both. This is a novel sure to receive a great amount of critical attention–and attention from readers, too. I feel lucky to have gotten to read it.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Denise Cutting for Stone This was our book club book. It was not for me at all. I found there was too much detailed description throughout that got in the way of the flow of the story. The description of the delivery of the twins made me rather sick to my stomach.... Read More
Rated of 5
by Dave Cutting for Stone Our all-guys bookclub read this in a joint meeting with our spouse's all-girls bookclub -- everyone found this book to be an absolutely fascinating read about an area of the world few of us knew much about and a story line, rich characters, and... Read More
Rated of 5
by Elizabeth Lengthy, but good The story of Shiva and Marion Stone will stay with you long after you turn the last page. It is an unforgettable tale of Siamese twins and their accomplishments, trials, heartbreaks, triumphs, and undeniable bond. Their Ethiopian family's ties... Read More
Rated of 5
by Sue Zugaj LISTEN TO THIS BOOK The audio book is one of the best I've listened to. Some narrators 'read' to you.....this narrator brings the country and the characters to life - you are entertained and educated and won't be disappointed.
Rated of 5
by CMLewis My thoughts & questions I am almost finished - have really been saving the last few pages because I am in the process of reviewing contents. This has been an interesting book - many layers for all characters- right now I am trying to go back and find a direct reference... Read More
Rated of 5
by Disappointed Pay attention! Yes, it's epic; yes, it is thickly plotted, but please, people--beneath very seductive and flowing prose is a strongly misogynistic book--doesn't anyone notice that women--when they are given any attention at all--are martyrs or madonnas? That... Read More
The Hippocratic Oath
The title, Cutting for Stone, refers to a line in the Hippocratic Oath,
and to the last name of the three main characters, all of them surgeons. As
Abraham Verghese quotes it, the line from the Oath reads "I will not cut for
stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest. I will leave this
operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art." While this
line refers specifically to surgery for bladder stones (which were quite
prevalent in the 4th century BC), it's also a directive against surgery of all
kinds. Ancient Greek physicians did not practice surgery, instead referring
their patients to trained surgeons. Surgery was then considered a secondary
skill, and surgeons were not trained in theoretical medicine as physicians were.
Dissection was forbidden, and without precautions against contamination or the
ability to anaesthetize, surgery was almost always deadly and certainly
It's believed that The Hippocratic Oath was written in the 4th century BC,...
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