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Cutting for Stone (2009)

by Abraham Verghese

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,350502749 (4.26)723
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 mother's death in childbirth and their father's 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 politics -- their passion for the same woman -- that 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 him -- nearly destroying him -- 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.… (more)
  1. 225
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (momofthreewi)
    momofthreewi: Both are rich in character development and centered around unique families.
  2. 121
    The Cider House Rules by John Irving (GoST)
    GoST: Both books relate the eventful, coming-of-age stories of physicians and their struggle to learn their craft, complete with detailed descriptions of medical procedures.
  3. 154
    I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb (JGoto)
    JGoto: Also about the ties & love/hate relationship between identical twins.
  4. 132
    The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (paulkid)
    paulkid: Physician-fathers, twins, poor decisions.
  5. 81
    Mountains beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  6. 94
    Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (someproseandcons)
    someproseandcons: Both books are family and community sagas centered around secrets, and both books are carried by a strong and compelling voice.
  7. 40
    The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay (ddelmoni)
    ddelmoni: Exceptional characters and storyline, set in South Africa during WWII. Exceptional writing. If you liked Cutting for Stone you'll like The Power of One.
  8. 40
    Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Iudita)
  9. 30
    Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (sturlington)
  10. 10
    The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman (laytonwoman3rd)
  11. 21
    Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb (Ciruelo)
    Ciruelo: Both novels have a medical focus and are set in Ethiopia. The main characters in each novel were orphaned at an early age and each spent their childhoods in a religious setting.
  12. 00
    State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (sturlington)
  13. 22
    Chang and Eng by Darin Strauss (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Cutting for Stone portrays the life of a pair of conjoined twins separated at birth; Eng and Chang is the fictional biography of the famous original Siamese twins, who remained joined at the sternum throughout their lives. Readers interested in conjoined twins may enjoy both novels.… (more)
  14. 00
    The Citadel by A. J. Cronin (ainsleytewce)
  15. 22
    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (Miranda_Paige)
  16. 00
    Notes from the Hyena's Belly: An Ethiopian Boyhood by Nega Mezlekia (meggyweg)
  17. 00
    Beneath the Lion's Gaze by Maaza Mengiste (novelcommentary)
    novelcommentary: This was recently featured on NPR- go to thier website for an author interview.
  18. 00
    The House of Hope and Fear: Life in a Big City Hospital by Audrey Young (ainsleytewce)
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» See also 723 mentions

English (493)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  Catalan (1)  Danish (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (503)
Showing 1-5 of 493 (next | show all)
Not as good as i expected it to be considering what great reviews it got. The writing was good and most of it was interesting but many parts lacked believability and the ending was disappointingly anti-climatic. I wouldn't give it any more than three stars and would think twice about recommending it. However because I like the author's writing style I will probably read some of his other books. ( )
  rachelbd43 | Jul 21, 2021 |
This book is the June selection for our neighborhood book club.

I wasn't surprised to learn that the author is good friends with John Irving. It's been a long time since I've read any Irving, so I can't speak directly to similarities to the two authors, but there was something very reminiscent of Irving in this novel.

As I've grown older, I've become more aware of the gaps in my history knowledge. I still think of nonfiction history books as, for the most part, boring as hell, even though I might find that's not the case if I made an effort to broaden my reading. I do, however, find that I appreciate well-written fiction that deals with historical events. In this case, the novel is set mostly in Ethiopia during time of great unrest and change. Perhaps what I enjoy is getting a sense of how the big machine of history affects the everyday lives of people. And that's what this novel gave me.

Add in the fact that all the major characters are doctors, and I was hooked. I really enjoyed this novel and am looking forward to discussing it with my ladies. ( )
  ltrahms | Jul 13, 2021 |
Very long book about a pair of twins in Ethiopia, whose mother (a nun)dies in childbirth and whose father is scarred by her death and abandons them. Raised by loving foster parents in an unstable country, they both become doctors like their absentee father. Highly complex interpersonal relationships are the highlight of this novel. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
Abraham Verghese takes his time telling this story, and it was well worth my time to read it. I learned not just about Ethiopia (which was part of why it first appealed to me, during a time when I had the good fortune to work in a heavily Ethiopian-American community and wanted to know more about its members birth place), but also about medicine, surgery (his vivid descriptions are not for anyone who easily gets queasy over such things), identical twins, and the behind the scenes lives of doctors. I love when a work of fiction can do all that, but not if the book itself isn't good and compelling. Cutting for Stone is. Verghese probes the psyches of several of the main characters, but keeps an engrossing plot going at the same time. I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this, but I'm very glad that I finally did. ( )
  CaitlinMcC | Jul 11, 2021 |
In a mission hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, a nun suddenly goes into labor, giving birth to twins. To the shock and anguish of all involved, the woman, who was also a nurse at the hospital, dies during her ordeal. The twins, Marion and Shiva, are subsequently raised by two other doctors at the hospital and destined to become doctors themselves, but throughout their lives they continue to be haunted by the mystery surrounding their birth.

I was absolutely absorbed by this richly detailed and sweeping story of family, history and medicine. It was educational as well as fascinating and thought-provoking. In ways I can't quite put my finger on the writing was also somewhat reminiscent to me of Middlesex. There was one scene I wish had played out differently as it seemed uncomfortably out of character for Marion, but unfortunately it was also the plot device which led nearly to his demise. Despite that single reservation, I recommend the book highly. ( )
  ryner | Jul 6, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 493 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Abraham Vergheseprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bull, R.Map artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gall, JohnCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hellier, GavinCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malhotra, SunilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tan, VirginiaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
And because I love this life
I know I shall love death as well
The child cries out when
From the right breast the mother
Takes it away, in the very next moment
To find in the left one
Its consolation.
-- Rabindranath Tagore,
from Gitanjuli
Dedication
For George and Mariam Verghese Scribere jussit amor
First words
Prologue: After eight months spent in the obscurity of our mother's womb, my brother Shiva, and I came into the world in the late afternoon of the twentieth of September in the year of grace 1954.
Chapter 1: Sister Mary Joseph Praise had come to Missing Hospital from India, seven years before our birth.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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 mother's death in childbirth and their father's 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 politics -- their passion for the same woman -- that 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 him -- nearly destroying him -- 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.

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Twin brothers Marion and Shiva Stone come of age in Ethiopia, sharing a deep bond that has helped them survive the loss of their parents and the country's political upheaval, but when they both fall for the same woman, their bond is broken and the two go their separate ways, until a medical crisis reunites them.
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