- Paperback: 667 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Books; 1st edition (January 26, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780375714368
- ISBN-13: 978-0375714368
- ASIN: 0375714367
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4,058 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cutting for Stone Paperback – January 26, 2010
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“A winner. . . . Filled with mystical scenes and deeply felt characters. . . . Verghese is something of a magician as a novelist.”
“A masterpiece. . . . Not a word is wasted in this larger-than-life saga. . . . Verghese expertly weaves the threads of numerous story lines into one cohesive opus. The writing is graceful, the characters compassionate and the story full of nuggets of wisdom.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Lush and exotic. . . . The kind [of novel] Richard Russo or Cormac McCarthy might write. . . . Shows how history and landscape and accidents of birth conspire to create the story of a single life. . . . Verghese creates this story so lovingly that it is actually possible to live within it for the brief time one spends with this book. You may never leave the chair.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Vivid. . . . Cutting for Stone shines.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“Absorbing, exhilarating. . . . If you’re hungry for an epic . . . open the covers of Cutting for Stone, [then] don’t expect to do much else.”
—The Seattle Times
“Wildly imaginative. . . . Verghese has the rare gift of showing his characters in different lights as the story evolves, from tragedy to comedy to melodrama, with an ending that is part Dickens, part Grey’s Anatomy. The novel works as a family saga, but it is also something more, a lovely ode to the medical profession.”
“Compelling. . . . Readers will put this novel down at book’s end knowing that it will stick with them for a long time to come.”
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“The novel is full of compassion and wise vision. . . . I feel I changed forever after reading this book, as if an entire universe had been illuminated for me. It’s an astonishing accomplishment to make such a foreign world familiar to a reader by the book’s end.”
—Sandra Cisneros, San Antonio Express-News
“Tremendous. . . . Vivid and thrilling. . . . I feel lucky to have gotten to read it.”
“The first novel from physician Verghese displays the virtues so evident in his bestselling and much-lauded memoirs. He has a knack for well-structured scenes, a passion for medicine and a gift for communicating that passion.”
“Fantastic. . . . Written with a lyrical flair, told through a compassionate first-person point of view, and rich with medical insight and information, [Cutting for Stone] makes for a memorable read.”
“Vastly entertaining and enlightening.”
About the Author
Abraham Verghese is Professor and Vice Chair for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The founding director of the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, he is the author of My Own Country, a 1994 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist and a Time Best Book of the Year; The Tennis Partner, a New York Times Notable Book; and, most recently, the critically acclaimed novel Cutting for Stone, which was a national bestseller. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, his essays and short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Granta, The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. In 2016 Verghese received a National Humanities Medal from President Obama. He lives in Palo Alto, California.
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After Thomas Stone and Sister Mary Joseph Praise create their twin progeny Shiva/Marion, CFS slows down for a few hundred pages, exploring the mystic cords (umbilical and otherwise) that bind. Not that it is bad, just too much of a bland thing at times. The second third off the book sets a languorous pace too that takes 150 pages to get the boys to puberty. It would be unfair to say the book bogs down, but it definitely would have benefited from a quicker pace or editing.
The last third is the exact opposite--a series of frenetic coincidences and crises that occasionally seem contrived or created solely to wring every last tear from the reader. Some of it works, other times I found myself rolling my eyes. It was during one of these more implausible instances that it occurred to me the author--for better and for worse--reminds me of Charles Dickens, whom I quite like. Warts and all.
The book brings out various facets of the country and gives a good perspective of the society for readers to understand and appreciate the ways of life. The turbulence therein has been interwoven so well with the lives of the characters of the story to make a gripping reading. Even though it is not a thriller and given that it is loaded with high technical stuff on medicine and surgery, still I found it difficult to stop my reading at any point. And there were so many details interspersed into the writing, which made it very difficult for me to rush through the pages. So, it was like a strong cup of coffee, the bitterness kept me from finishing it fast, but the taste kept me wanting for more.
It also threw some philosophical angle for what one carries through the life and how the unspoken torments. How the slipper just refuses to leave your feet, unless you look down and acknowledge it in the first place. And also that it’s the noble end which matters, noble means does not.
I would highly recommend this book for all my friends
It's the story of two boys - Marion and Shiva, who take on the surname of the doctor who delivered them, Thomas Stone. The two boys are twins, extracted from the womb of a nun, Sister Mary Joseph Praise, and joined at the head by a tubal tissue that possibly threatens the lives of the boys until it's severed. And this birth condition sets the book's surest but most underdeveloped metaphor. The sister dies, and the presumed father, Thomas Stone, abruptly makes tracks, wanting nothing to do with the boys. They are then adopted by Ghosh, an ad hoc surgeon, and Ghosh's heartthrob an Indian nun, Hema.
Shiva is matter-of-fact smart, expending little effort to achieve his goal of becoming a doctor, while Marion has to work at it. And then there's Genet, a female waif who grows up with the two boys and is eager, as they become aware of their sexuality, to have one or the other deflower her, as she puts it.
The story takes place largely in Ethiopia during the last days of Haile Selassie's reign. The author places these characters within that bit of history, the unrest that follows Selassie's demise as ruler and the ensuing urge to revolution in Africa's horn. It's this aspect of the story that I enjoyed the most - the crumbling of that nation's ancient foundation, the blending of Christian, Hindu, and Islamic cultures there.
Historic epics are the grander end of literature, and Verghese clearly had this in mind when writing the book. But there are technical aspects of the story that simply don't work. The author allows Marion to narrate the story - including the weeks prior to his and Shiva's birth, their infancy, and much later during Marion's surgery. The manner is which this is accomplished has the effect of forcing Marion into an awkwardly unrealistic omniscient point of view little suited to first person narration. Too, the characters, by Western standards, have altogether too many stilted conversations. This may be the manner of Ethiopian language and conversing, but these scenes seem more like TV dialogue than revealing literary dynamics.
Thomas Stone and Genet show up again at story's end, but the purpose of both seems wasted, other than trying to tie up as many loose ends as possible. Still, there are many alleys and streets in this novel that lead nowhere, story-wise, or metaphorically, and I couldn't help imagining Charles Scribner slicing and dicing the manuscript to half its length, as he did with those of Hemingway near the end of that fabled writer's career. Altogether, then, these technical aspects of the book give it a rather melodramatic tone, something I'm sure the author didn't intend. Clearly the author's vision for the book was ambitious, but it's the manner in which this was carried out that forces me to lean to the nay-saying side of Verghese's literary tightrope.
My rating 12 of 20 stars