Sunday, 6 January 2013

Thoughts: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Marion and Shiva, identical twin brothers are born under bad circumstances in Missing Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Their mother Sister Mary Joseph Praise, an Indian nun, dies giving birth and their father Dr. Stone, a British surgeon, is overwhelmed with the situation and flees the hospital for good. Now orphaned they come of age at the mission hospital, in an Ethiopia on the brink of revolution, cared for by loving people, Hema and Gosh, doctors on the mission's grounds. Both twins come to share fascination and love for medicine. But their special connection, their ShivaMarion union, is on risk when the love for the same woman drives them apart and force Marion to leave the country for New York City. There he pursues his career as an intern in an underfunded teaching hospital. But the past will get to him during a seemingly fatal illness. He now has to entrust his life on the two man he came to trust the least - his father and brother.
The mood that accompanies the story and the rich language made this book a had-to force-myself-to-stop-reading kind of book. I caught myself thinking about Marion's fate when I was not reading wanting to go back as soon as possible to pursue the story. I also liked reading about healing people and surgery and how passionate Marion and Shiva and many other guiding characters in that book were about practicing medicine. The medical jargon and sometimes gory descriptions of diseases and following surgeries made this book even more vivid somehow. And although the story may move a little bit slow at first the real depth of the novel is only revealed as Marion's life unfolds. Also the means of being a twin were very well outlined, like the brothers see another more like on individual than two, which was also essential to the story when later they brake in two, becoming two individuals.
But it's not only a well done family saga it's also a historical account on Ethiopia. The story may not fit the time frame exactly, nonetheless the historical background feels like the story could be real. It felt like taking a vacation and experiencing Ethiopia.
Though I tried to think of something I came up with nothing to not like about this book. Five stars.


  1. COuldn't agree with you more. I think this is one of the finest books published in the last several years, at least in English.

  2. Glad this book lived up to expectations, I'm excited to read it.