A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel - an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.
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.
An unforgettable journey into one man's remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.
©2009 Abraham Verghese; (P)2009 Random House Audio
This novel makes me want to keep driving or sit in the garage listening. The story is mesmerizing- a fascinating look at the third world's health care and politics, as well as the disparity of health care between the "haves" and "have nots" here- along with a beautiful story about the protagonist's life.
This is an epic surely destined to become a "cut in stone" classic, a gem so perfectly cut that it sparkles from every facet. Best of all, the story is filled with characters so human and alive, even in death, that I for one wish to keep them close by me forever. And Sunil Mulhotra's mastery of narration for both sexes, over a large spectrum of age and accent, is so good I am grateful my first exposure to Cutting For Stone is through his voice.
I picked this novel after hearing Dr. Verghese on the Diane Rheim Show on NPR and was impressed by his enthusiasm and idealism for the practice of medicine and the training of young physicians.
The plot has some refrains of the Kite Runner, also written by a physician. It follows the intertwined lives of two brothers from politically unstable Ethiopa to the United States. The language and imagery are lyrical in many places even in the description of surgical procedures and cadaver dissections.
It is not overstated to say that the novel does for Surgery and Medicine what Moby Dick did for whaling. The plot is interspersed with technical descriptions of nearly every aspect of medicine from the fine points of surgical anatomy to the process of medical residency certification. The finale of the book is far-fetched and is telegraphed, but in the context of the grand story, I suppose it is no more far-fetched than Ahab waving goodbye from the back of the White Whale.
The characters are compelling and complex -- particularly the namesake of the novel and the father of the narrator. One of the recurring themes of the book is the tension between the good life (i.e. love of family) and the good career (i.e. good works). This theme is carried from the Carmelite Nuns in Madras to the trauma and transplant surgeons in New York. No one seems to get it quite right except for Ghosh, the Indian/Ethiopian Internist who is the most attractive person in the book. I wonder if Dr. Verghese modeled him as a self-portrait.
I suspect that this book will not get the readership that it deserves because of the hefty length and hefty price. But it ought to reside on the bookshelf of everyone who aspires to go into medicine as a career -- right next to Arrowsmith and Aequinimitas.
I would give CUTTING FOR STONE twenty stars if I could. Every so often a book comes along that you just know will stay with you and this is one. The story unfolds in hospital in a burgeoning town somewhere in Ethiopia. The cultural aspect of the story is absolutely a masterpiece, Indians, Africans, Italians, Americans come together in a confluence where each is distinct, yet move freely in and out of each other's lives. The story of Ethiopia in itself is a heartbreaking one, but described lovingly. The medical aspect of the story is almost a character in itself, extremely engaging and easy to follow. There was a great deal of medical technicality, but some of the most interesting descriptions I've ever come across. Very impressive. I'm trying to get my MD sister in law to read it so she can tell me how accurate it is! As for narration, excellent, excellent, excellent, except for Dr. Stone, his accent is just a riot. Overall, this is a book you could practically eat, smell, hear, it comes alive.
This book had great reviews on Amazon but none on audible when I bought it. I was reluctant to make the purchase out of concern the narrator might botch it. The story is so beautifully written and the narrator did a nice job with it as well. I was a bit put off by the American accents (do we all sound like Texan gang-stahs to others outside the U.S.?) but that was a minor hang-up compared to the great tale beautifully read.
Other than "The Help", this is my favorite read. I couldn't put my ipod down. Listened for hours and sad when it ended. Definitely one of the best. The narration is perfect.
Audible Member Since 2003
This is a solid novel, very well written. It is long, and I see that some say it is too long, to which I disagree. This is a story that is rich in detail, but not too verbose to keep the reader/listener engaged throughout the story. Admittedly it did take a while for me to become emotionally involved with the characters, but that might simply be my own perspective.
There are a good deal of medical terms and it is apparent that the author is either a physician or solid researcher. However, this does not detract from the story but only adds to the credibility.
Perhaps the ending is a bit predictable, although I found it fitting and satisfying.
The reader, Sunil Malhotra is PERFECT. All in all a very good book.
Knowledge is knowing the way. Wisdom is looking for an alternative, more interesting road to get there. Audiobooks are that road.
An epic novel which starts out in Addis Ababa and ends in New York, Cutting for Stone is one of those books that stays with you long after you're done. The story begins with an intense, anatomical description of the birth of Marion and Shiva, twin boys born to Sister Mary Joseph Praise and her lover, a brash English surgeon, Dr. Thomas Stone. A love story gone very wrong, the events of that day molded the destiny of those two boys.
With excellent character development, you come to really understand the essence of Marion and Shiva, as well as Hema and Ghosh, the mother and father who stepped in to raise them, their biological father who abandoned them and the woman who came between them. The novel is heavily laden with medical jargon and raw descriptions of procedures that may not be for everyone, but for me they added to the authenticity of the novel.
Marion, the narrator, takes you on his journey. Through his eyes you see the poverty of the medical hospital Mission, which is mispronounced Missing, throughout the book. You learn about the fistulas girls develop because of poor medical facilities and how they become outcasts because of it. You will experience the mutilation of a young girl by a family member and what that does to her and the people whose lives she touches. You will get a unique look at what it’s like to immigrate to America and how it’s not so rosy for everyone living the dream of western society.
You will experience the love that develops between Hema and Ghosh and how these adoptive parents nurture their twin boys. You will struggle along with Marion as he feels the effects of being abandoned by his biological father.
This book is rich in so many ways. A wonderful experience that continues to resonate long after it’s over.
The narrator does an excellent job of all the accents. His intonation in playing the part of Marion is superb.
I have been an audible member for several years and have "read" many, many great books. I cannot get into the car and drive, even a short distance, without a book. This book is right up there on my list of favorites. Great story, great narration. Many hours of enjoyable driving!
Favorites: Invention of Wings, Cutting for Stone, All the Light We Cannot See
I am in the middle of this book, and don't want it to end. The characters are fascinating, the writing is superb. At first I didn't like the narrator, but now I think he does a great job.
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