July 11, 2011
Cutting For Stone
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
2009 Vintage Books
2009 Random House Audio; Unabridged edition
Reader: Sunil Malhotra
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)
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.
I started off reading the printed version of this novel, but switched to audio after a few chapters. It took me a little over 50 pages to get hooked, but from there on, I was completely engrossed. At over 658 pages, this is quite a chunkster and it took me almost 2 months to listen to. But I fell in love with the reader’s voice and didn’t mind the length of the story one bit. From AudioFile:
Dr. Marion Stone, the Ethiopian-born, half-Indian protagonist and narrator of CUTTING FOR STONE, at one point refers to his adopted mother's voice as both lilting and singsong. The same can be said of Sunil Malhotra's expert reading of this audiobook, a moving story about twin brothers born of an Indian Catholic nun and an expatriate English doctor. Malhotra slips into the skin of Marion, a moody, bookish boy and later a talented surgeon, who, against a background of African poverty, war, and medical breakthroughs, is oddly detached but always compassionate. Malhotra's ease with the sometimes-complex medical terminology and the broad cast of Indian, African, English, and even some Bronx-accented characters makes for a fascinating listening experience.
My greatest consolation, Ghosh thought, for only the hundredth time since his arrival in Ethiopia, has been the women of this land. The country had completely surprised him. Despite pictures he’d seen in National Geographic, he’d been unprepared for this mountain empire shrouded in mist. The cold, the altitude, the wild roses, the towering trees, reminded him of Coonoor, a hill station in India he’d visited as a boy. His Imperial Majesty, Emperor of Ethiopia, may have been exceptional in his bearing and dignity, but Ghosh discovered that His Majesty’s people shared his physical features. Their sharp, sculpted noses and soulful eyes set them between Persians and Africans, with the kinky hair of the latter, and the lighter skin of the former. Reserved, excessively formal, and often morose, they were quick to anger, quick to imagine insults to their pride. As for theories of conspiracy and the most terrible pessimism, surely they’d corned the world market on those. But get past all those superficial attributes, and you found people who were supremely intelligent, loving, hospitable, and generous.
The Dallas Morning News says, Grand enough for the movies and I’d have to agree. What a marvelous film this richly textured saga would make! Cutting for Stone is one of the best books I’ve read this year. The characters, both major and minor, are so well-drawn and unique, they’ll remain with me for years to come.
Caribousmom says, Cutting for Stone is one of those books which is impossible to put down. Here is a lush, emotional, intelligent and compelling novel written by an accomplished story teller. I loved that Verghese, a physician himself, wrote a novel about two generations of doctors and was able to capture the passion of medicine. By placing the story mostly in a small African village, Verghese is able to show that the physician’s greatest gift is not found in technology, but in his or her ability to provide comfort.
I loved this book and its characters (who felt like living, breathing people to me). I loved the journey. Abraham Verghese has written a gorgeous novel which deserves to be savored. Readers who love hefty family sagas in the style of John Irving, and are drawn to literary fiction will enjoy this book.
Go here to read her entire review.
My good friend, Kay, also loved this novel. She says, this was a tremendous book with a wonderfully talented author. It was epic in scope and gave me so much to think about. It was a not a fast read for me. However, I wanted to be sure that I kept up with all the characters and events that packed the narrative.
You can read her complete review here.
Final thoughts: I loved this beautiful, provocative debut novel. Don’t be put off by its size; you won’t want it to end.