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Cutting for Stone: A novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 3, 2009
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John Irving has been nominated for a National Book Award three times--winning once, in 1980, for the novel The World According to Garp. In 1992, Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In 2000, he won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules--a film with seven Academy Award nominations. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review of Cutting for Stone:
That Abraham Verghese is a doctor and a writer is already established; the miracle of this novel is how organically the two are entwined. I’ve not read a novel wherein medicine, the practice of it, is made as germane to the storytelling process, to the overall narrative, as the author manages to make it happen here. The medical detail is stunning, but it never overwhelms the humane and narrative aspects of this moving and ambitious novel. This is a first-person narration where the first-person voice appears to disappear, but never entirely; only in the beginning are we aware that the voice addressing us is speaking from the womb! And what terrific characters--even the most minor players are given a full history. There is also a sense of great foreboding; by the midpoint of the story, one dreads what will further befall these characters. The foreshadowing is present in the chapter titles, too--‘The School of Suffering’ not least among them! Cutting for Stone is a remarkable achievement.--John Irving
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From Publishers Weekly
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More About the Author
From 1990 to 1991, Abraham Verghese attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop at The University of Iowa, where he obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree.
His first book, MY OWN COUNTRY, about AIDS in rural Tennessee, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for 1994 and was made into a movie directed by Mira Nair and starring Naveen Andrews, Marisa Tomei, Glenne Headley and others.
His second book, THE TENNIS PARTNER, was a New York Times notable book and a national bestseller.
CUTTING FOR STONE is his most recent book and his first novel. It is an epic love story, medical story and family saga. It appeared in hardback in 2009, and is in its 9th printing and is being translated into 16 languages. It is a Vintage paperback and has remained on the New York Times bestseller list for over 110 weeks at this writing.
Verghese has an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Swarthmore College and has published extensively in the medical literature, and his writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Granta, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere.
His writing, both non-fiction and fiction, has to do with his view of medicine as a passionate and romantic pursuit; he sees the bedside ritual of examining the patient as a critical, cost saving, time-honored and necessary, (but greatly threatened) skill that cements the patient-physician relationship. He coined the term the 'iPatient' to describe the phenomenon of the virtual patient in the computer becoming the object of attention to the detriment of the real patient in the bed.
Top Customer Reviews
That brief summary does no justice to Verghese's powerful and remarkable prose style or the structure of the first part of the book which, although it revolves around the tragedy that claims the life of the twins' mother, also introduces the other main characters who will take the place of their biological parents. Darting back and forth between the events in the surgical theater (as Thomas Stone, horrified at what he sees, first tries to save Mary Joseph Praise's life by collapsing the skull of the infant he believes cannot be born alive), the mundane daily activities of his fellow doctor, Ghosh (trying to escape what he believes is a hopeless love for Hema) and Hema's struggle to get home to Missing from her annual holiday in India, the reader will find it impossible to put the book down and wants only to find a way of reading faster and faster to discover what happens next.Read more ›
Beginning in India, the story progresses to Africa where it remains until the protagonist immigrates to America. Marion, the narrator of this fictional autobiography, is one of a set of identical twins. His birth and life at the mission, Missing, provide the basis for the conflicts and triumphs contained in the novel. The historical backdrop, Ethiopia's internal conflicts and coups, impart additional depth to the book's realistic atmosphere. The title "Cutting for Stone" is taken from the Hippocratic oath, but may also reflect a double meaning. The biological father of the Marion and his twin, Shiva, is Thomas Stone, a famous surgeon. In what may be a subconscious effort to emulate and impress their absent parent, both become skilled surgeons. They are "Cutting for Stone".
This is one of the most outstanding books I have been privileged to read. Verghese is a skilled writer and draws the reader into the book immediately. The characters are strong, interesting, and very human; the conflicts are realistic and keep the pace of the novel moving forward. Even minor characters are sufficiently well developed so that the reader would like to know more about their lives. There is gentle humor, emotional turmoil, and great personal triumph throughout the book.
Allow yourself the luxury of time to read "Cutting for Stone" without interruption. If you do not, you will find yourself thinking about the characters and wondering what is going to happen to each one.Read more ›
The twin's mother dies in childbirth and their father abandons them minutes later. They are raised in a missionary medical hospital in Ethiopia. As they grow up they are forced to face their past and futures re-defining the meanings of destiny, love and family.
While reading you will notice the fine points are painstakingly researched as the story is and packed full of medical jargon and situations along with vivid descriptions of Ethiopian culture and history. My only reservation in recommending the book is the novels "hard moments" as almost every imaginable tragedy touches these brothers, and medical operations and oddities are very detailed. Squeamish readers may want to skim some of these passages.
All in all, this novel is elegantly told, superbly structured and the most original piece of fiction I've read in years. It's deserving of every positive adjective I can throw at it; marvelous, and thrilling. You will want to own and lose yourself in this book again and again. Buy it now, and thank me later.
Cutting for Stone is a beautifully written coming-of-age novel weaving family, hospital and house staff, patients, community, disease, and country into a complex tapestry. It incorporates love, lust, trust, betrayal, commitment, emigration, faith, poverty, life, death, hope, dreams, fears, and just about every other big theme you can imagine without ever becoming predictable, manipulative, or cliched. It's an epic story that feels intimate and cozy and enveloping. The characters are like family and I'd feel at home if I visited Missing Hospital, Matron, and the staff.
I usually read quickly, finishing a book in a day or two. Cutting for Stone took more than a week. The story was compelling, but I read slowly to savor the words and picture Addis Ababa through Marion's eyes. I didn't want the journey to end.
I will be recommending this book to all my reading friends for a long time to come and can't wait for Dr. Verghese to pass through my city on his book tour. Go grab a copy and start reading - you won't be disappointed.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Didn't really like the main character. And although I learned something about historical events and appreciated some of the insights into human nature, I found the narrative detail... Read morePublished 20 hours ago by Gwendolyn
This is one of the best books I've read in years. I cannot say anything about it that has not been said in another review but I do recommend that everyone read it.Published 20 hours ago by Eztli
The love between two twin boys when they are young and the divergence of their interests when they get older is one of the many themes of Cutting for Stone. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Mary
The roles of the women were narrow - madonna vs whore. Either the women were martyrs - it's all about husband and family - or they were whores. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Dana Deason
I loved this book. It has stayed in my memory. I read so often I can't remember most books. It's wonderfully written and constantly surprises the reader.Published 1 day ago by J. A. Foster
Great if you want to see how the staff works and lives at hospitals outside the United States. Makes me appreciate my physician here in the U.S.Published 2 days ago by A Teacher
One of my favorite books. This physician is as skilled a writer as he is a surgeon. Get ready to travel to Ethophia and learn about its rich history and culture. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Printemps28
What an amazing story, so worth the read. Lots of medical detail in it, which could appear daunting but I found it very interesting. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Fidafoxx