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
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.
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.
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.
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 was one of the best audiobooks I have heard in years, right up there with the best of the best - Angela's Ashes, Memoirs of a Geisha, Lord of the Rings - this is epic. The visceral and cerebral saga of a family, told step by step, with full blooded, gorgeous characters, and accurate medical descriptions. Dr Verghese grew up as an ethnic christian Indian in Ethiopia, and the cultural details seem real and are mesmerizing. History, medicine, religion, love, sex, culture, brotherhood, it is ALL there. I can't possibly say enough good things about this book, and am filled with admiration for Dr Verghese. He describes why medicine is an amazing profession, and why the narrative of life, no matter what the story, is important. Sunil Malhotra does a fantastic job as well.
I listen to Audible books while commuting, doing housework, exercising and gardening.
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 outstanding story and it is not hard to understand why it has become a best seller. The entire story is original - its setting, characters, and plot development. You come away feeling like you know a little bit more about life in Ethiopia and what it takes for a physician to work in a Mission hospital. The narration is excellent.
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.
Addicted to Audible!
This was an amazing book. As a nurse I found the medical parts fascinating and the story was engrossing. The characters were well written and so REAL. The only negative on this book was the length. I did feel that it was a bit too long and could have had better editing, overall, however, it was absolutely one of the best books I have listened to in a long time!
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