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[171] Cutting For Stone – Abraham Verghese

stone“The world turns on our every action, and our every omission, whether we know it or not.” [535]

Spanning over thirty years, the narrative of Cutting For Stone stretches four continents and illustrates that geography is destiny. The birth of identical twins, Marion and Shiva, is a legend. It’s more of a disaster: they were born connected, but rudely separated, to a disgraced Indian nun who died in childbirth, and a disappeared father who has born the guilt for decades to come. While their parents have quit parenthood, the brothers thrive on under the care of Hema and Ghosh, who are physicians at Missing Hospital in Addis Ababa.

Hema, whom the twins call Ma, left her own country to pursue her dream being a physician. India is no place for her, let alone earning the respect of a female Brahmin doctor. The tough and fearless woman directs her rage at all men who have taken her for granted and belittle her professional skills. Could this be the reason of her regarding Ghosh’s courtship a joke? But the orphaned twins and their ailments have tied their knot for life. The miracle of survival has taught the couple to never take anyone for granted. The babies’ calling entwine them for life.

The story is told from Marion’s perspective, some forty six years after his birth. Under the tutelage of Ghosh, and a childhood at Missing Hospital that imparts him lessons about fortitude and frailty of life, has developed a predilection of medicine. But the true call to being a surgeon arrives when a coup erupts in Ethiopia, awakening his feral intelligence. During the awful period with Ghosh in jail, Marion continues to immerse in the study of medicine. Fate and Genet, the girl for whom he has saved himself all the years, have conspired to render his life even more checkered: his brother Shiva has betrayed him with Genet, who later becomes a member of an anti-government guerilla force. Forced to leave Ethiopia to dodge the purge of military, Marion flees to America for find refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. He’s unreconciled, unconsoled, and unrequited.

“What human language captures the dislocation, the acute insufficiency of being in the presence of the superorganism, the sinking, and the shrinking of feeling at this display of modernism? It was as if nothing I’d ever done in my life prior to this counted. As if my past was revealed to be a waste…” [382]

Cutting For Stone is a family saga set in the field of medicine. It is a map of ineluctable destiny of people whose lives are entwined by chance. Once the connection is established, their paths overlap for life. Everything they do—every decision they make, every action they take, and every seed they sow (or not sow), becomes part of their destiny. Not only their actions, but also their omissions, contribute to the events that take place over the next thirty years. Marion 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. The novel illustrates that life is about fixing the wound that divides family. It might take a lifetime to suture and to heal. This is a riveting tale of love across generation and geography. Dr. Verghese has written an unforgettable story of love that is real, because true love is often unreasonable, irrational, but lasting like the characters have demonstrated in this novel. [Read/Skim/Toss]

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13 Responses

  1. another brilliant review. Matthew, you are able to so clearly project the essence of a book. I very much look forward to reading this one, thanks to your words about it.

  2. Fantastic review. Thanks so much. This is a new-to-me title and author. I like novels that span time and place.

  3. Love the review…you are so eloquent. This book is certainly appealing, and perhaps would be to many people. I mean, who doesn’t have a wound in the family that needs healing? I know mine has a few…

  4. Great review Matt. This sounds like a really fascinating book – the subject matter, the scope… I’ll have to put it on my radar.

  5. […] [171] Cutting For Stone – Abraham Verghese […]

  6. karin:
    I hope you enjoy the novel–it’s worth the effort of perusing all the difficult medical terms. It’s a touching family saga. 🙂

  7. Beth F:
    Dr. Verghese has been published in New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, and Esquire. He has written non-fiction, check out My Own Country. Cutting For Stone is his leap into fiction. 🙂

  8. Sandy:
    The idea about hurt in the family appeals to many of us. This novel has so many twists and turns. It will keep you curious of what’s next. 🙂

  9. iliana:
    I hope you’ll read it. I highly recommend this one; although it’s not published until 2009, I’ll name this book one of my best reads this year. 🙂

  10. […] ARC/Books to Watch For Little Bee: A Novel Chris Cleave Cutting for Stone Abraham […]

  11. […] of the new books that would inspire a motion picture. The Clothes on their Backs by Linda Grant, Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, and Little Bee by Chris Cleave would probably make great movies. After the […]

  12. It does sound really good. It has only just been released here in the UK, but I will make a note of it and try to read a copy soon.

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