Cutting for Stone

Verghese, Abraham. Cutting for Stone. Read by Sunil Malhotra. New York: Random House Audio, 2009.

Reason read: May 28th is National Derg Downfall Day in Ethiopia.

On LibraryThing alone there are nearly 400 reviews for this book (and that’s not counting the people who insisted on publishing the same review five times in a row for whatever reason). It’s almost as if there is nothing more insightful to be said about Cutting for Stone. What new spin can I put on an already fabulous and amazing book? Everything everyone else said is absolutely true. It’s lyrical in its language. It’s descriptively alluring. Vivid landscapes. Intriguing characters. The mix of true historical events (like the attempted coup on Emperor Selassie) is seamless and works well within the fiction.

What I missed (and wished there was more of) was Marion interacting with his brother. There is barely any dialogue between the two brothers while they are growing up. Shiva is always on the periphery of Marion’s telling. By the time of the betrayal I didn’t get the full scope of how devastating it was to Marion because the closeness of the twins was not fully emphasized throughout the story.

Edited to add my favorite line, “No blade can puncture the human heart like the well-chosen words of a spiteful son” (p 821).

Author fact: Verghese is also a physician which is why his medical terminology in Cutting for Stone is more technical and exacting. When I checked out his website (here) I found his views on the patient-physician relationship compelling.

Book trivia: Cutting for Stone is Verghese’s first novel. He’s a doctor AND a best selling author!

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Ethiopia, Or As We Used To Say, Abyssinia!” (p 80). As an aside, Pearl wanted to travel to Addis Ababa after reading Cutting for Stone – Verghese “brought the city alive” (p 80). Someone else said Verghese made her homesick for Addis Ababa and they’ve never been there. Huge compliments.

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