Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

cutting stoneCutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Published: January 2010
Publisher: First Vintage Books
Genre: Fiction / Literary Fiction
Edition: Kindle, 672 pages
Source: Library

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother’s death 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.
Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine, and ordinary miracles—and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined.

(Synopsis via and image via Goodreads)


The key to your happiness is to own your slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don’t. If you keep saying your slippers aren’t yours, then you’ll die searching, you’ll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more. Not only our actions, but also our omissions, become our destiny. ~ Abraham VergheseCutting for Stone

Another debut novel on tap today. It isn’t often I read two debut novels one after the other. I’ve been waiting for Cutting for Stone at my local library for some time, and it just happened to appear on my Kindle just after reading another debut novel.

Abraham Verghese, however, tells a unique story. A story of Ethiopia in the days of Emperor Haile Selassie, war following deposition of the Emperor, daily struggles among the poor, illness and death. And into this chaotic country twin boys are born to a most unlikely couple, a beautiful Indian nun and a brash yet brilliant British surgeon.

I found the beginning slow going and wondered how I would get through 600 plus pages. Then the elegant language began to wrap me in a cocoon, and I was transported to Ethiopia, the mission hospital where the twins were born and where they grew up, their mother having died in childbirth and their father walking away moments later.

For some time in my 20s and 30s, I worked in the medical school of a large university in the South. The use of medical terms and jargon fascinated me. However, there are those who might want to skip over some of the descriptions of certain scenes involving illnesses and surgeries.

About midway through the book, I picked up on the theme which pulled me farther into completing the novel. I have debated whether to give it away here but decided you would enjoy the book if you don’t know what to expect as the total picture in the end.

Recommendation, red

If I had to begin my list of favorite books of 2015 today, Cutting for Stone would take first place. Abraham Verghese has, in my opinion, done what every writer hopes to do. He has written elegantly of difficult times and topics, and Verghese has shown his readers what is truly important in this life.

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5 thoughts on “Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

  1. Okay — so, the medical descriptions and terminology. Do you feel they were important to the book/writing/story? And 2 — would they make a squeamish person uncomfortable?

    I’m adding this to my list. Thanks!


    1. Tracy, the medical descriptions/terminology might seem overdone at times, but I found them highly relevant to the family lineage and story line. Squeamish? I’ve worked for a surgeon so not much makes me squeamish. There are some scenes that you could just not read if you’re feeling too squeamish after reading one or two scenes with medical procedures discussed. I love you’re adding it to your list.

      I’m picking up Verghese’s My Country, a memoir written before Cutting for Stone. I really enjoyed his writing style and want to read more.

      Liked by 1 person

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