Monday, 10 January 2011

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese


DATE READ: January 2011

NOTES: Cutting for Stone is a very ambitious novel which takes us to Ethiopia, Kenya, India and United States. Its main setting is a mission hospital in Addis Ababa run by an odd collection of medical staff. In an early dramatic episode twin boys are born and one of them, Marion, relates the strange symbiotic relationship that exists between him and his brother Shiva.

Verghese has created some wonderful characters – especially Hema and Ghosh who act as parents to the twins. The medical staff of the hospital in New York are particularly well drawn – in fact some of the best parts of the novels are set in United States. There is a Dickensian feel to the book – disappearances and reappearances, objects lost and found, betrayals, love and family loyalty.

The political situation (in both Ethiopia and US) is dealt with skilfully and intelligently. Surgical operations are described vividly – so this is not a book for the squeamish!

I thought the plot at the end was just too melodramatic and unbelievable but I can nonetheless understand the overall appeal of this book.

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