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Cutting for Stone (2009)

by Abraham Verghese

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,044487737 (4.26)721
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)
Recently added byArina40, janezfan26, nelsam, private library, WendyHinman, LeslieRains, ksoni1, hdmann
  1. 215
    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. 122
    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. 20
    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: A Novel 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 & 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 721 mentions

English (477)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (2)  Catalan (1)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  All languages (486)
Showing 1-5 of 477 (next | show all)
Well written and interesting, but I think there is something fundamentally changed about my tastes these days: I have so little patience for sweeping dynastic sagas populated by a hundred casually examined strange characters who all invariably keep deadly secrets. You know the kind of book I'm talking about. To me it feels clichéd even when the characters and settings are as interesting as the ones in this book.

So, all apologies to Mr Verghese, but I couldn't finish this book. I simply got distracted by other titles in my reading list that looked like (and were!) so much more fun. (Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's Palace of Illusions, Matt Taibbi's The Divide, Carol Shields's Unless, Neil Gaiman's Ocean at the end of the lane, etc.) ( )
  nandiniseshadri | Jul 12, 2020 |
Cutting for Stone is the story of twin boys, Marion and Shiva Stone, born joined at the head in a mission hospital in Addis Ababa over fifty years ago. Their mother, an Indian nun, had kept her pregnancy secret and died during the births. Their father, a surgeon named Thomas Stone, abandons them at birth. The boys are adopted by two doctors, their new mother, the obstetrician who delivered them, and their father, a general practitioner who becomes a surgeon after their father, the only surgeon, immediately runs off.

The book is narrated by Marion, and describes growing up in the Ethiopia of the Emperor Haile Selassie. This is not a feel good book. Each of the characters are touched by multiple tragedies. I was heartbroken to read about the living conditions in Ethiopia. The author is a doctor himself, and there are some fairly long passages describing female genital mutilation, as well as some fairly detailed and gruesome surgeries.

I have not been able to stop thinking about this book. Although breathtakingly sad in some places, there is an underlying story of love and devotion. I'll admit to skimming through many of the medical procedure sections. As long as I knew what the disease was I didn't need to know that much about the surgery. I don't think everyone will love this book but I believe it is one of the most powerful books that I have ever read. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jul 2, 2020 |
Love, love, loved this book! And that says something because I'm usually extremely squeamish when it comes to anything related to blood, injury or disease. So for a person like me to read this in detail and be totally enthralled, well... that really says something. I will keep this book forever. I want to read it again! ( )
  CynthiaMackey | Jun 11, 2020 |
One of my favorite books. When I finished it I was a little sad that I didn't get to read it any longer. ( )
  Phaer1 | May 15, 2020 |
Right off the bat I feel I have to address a grating story thread upholding virginity as the ultimate virtue (yuck), and culminating in an infuriating and disgusting scene of "nice guy" male supremacy and rape culture. From as skilled a writer and empathetic a storyteller, it is fucking disappointing to read a "friend zone" revenge fantasy.

That said, I was hooked to the larger story and overall enjoyed it. The descriptions of surgeries, hospitals and sickness are written by and for those who have experienced them, and it's hard for me to imagine people outside of medicine/nursing not getting lost in these. The epic description of a postpartum hemorrhage brought back intense memories of my clinical rotation in obstetrics, so much that I recalled vividly the smell of childbirth and blood. This evocation is what hooked me to the story. Are there more books that fit into the genre of third world medical drama? I'm hungry for more. ( )
1 vote magonistarevolt | Apr 30, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 477 (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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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
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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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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