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Cutting for Stone

4.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  245,026 Ratings  ·  21,782 Reviews
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,
Hardcover, 541 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by Knopf (first published 2009)
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Phyllis In the ancient Greek Hippocratic Oath (for physicians) there was a line about not cutting for stone (gall stone, kidney stone, etc) because of the…moreIn the ancient Greek Hippocratic Oath (for physicians) there was a line about not cutting for stone (gall stone, kidney stone, etc) because of the danger to the patient. In the era, there was no anesthesia, etc. However, the book's title CUTTING FOR STONE may indicate the danger and risk inherent in familiar love. The surgeon in the book is a Doctor Stone and his two estranged sons become doctors. (less)
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This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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The world turns on our every action, and our every omission, whether we know it or not.

It is statistically improbable that I will read a book as good as this one anytime soon. Although I’ll admit it starts off slowly, I found that the depths of this novel are revealed as the protagonist’s life unfolds. Something of a bildungsroman, Cutting for Stone focuses on a pair of twin boys who are born and raised in an African missionary hospital. Their story combines elements of Indian and Ethiopian lang
Nov 01, 2010 Alex rated it liked it
But it was only now, near the end, and far too late, that the pieces suddenly - dreadfully - clicked into place. Like a long Tetris piece slamming down, making a whole block of mystery blink and vanish. Only now did he realize what suddenly seemed so obvious: everyone who had suggested this book to him – every single one – was a middle-aged woman. This book…it was about the importance of family.

A wave of cold horror washed over him.

It would take months of porn and comic books to counteract this
Feb 10, 2009 Sara rated it it was amazing
Many readers will tell you that Cutting for Stone is the epic story of two conjoined twins fathered by a brilliant British Surgeon and an Indian Nun. And it technically is. Narrated by Marion the first born twin we are told of every influence on his and his brother’s existence. More than the story being told however, the novel is an accurate portrayal of life in all it’s cruelty and wonder.

The twin’s mother dies in childbirth and their father abandons them minutes later. They are raised in a mi
Dec 03, 2013 Ayaz rated it it was ok
“My VIP patients often regret so many things on their deathbeds. They regret the bitterness they’ll leave in people’s hearts. They realize that no money, no church service, no eulogy, no funeral procession no matter how elaborate can remove the legacy of a mean spirit.” (Cutting for Stone, pg 434)

More than a few people who’ve read the novel mentioned to me that they wanted to discontinue reading the novel. And I understood what they meant, when I finished reading Cutting for Stone this last week
Kasa Cotugno
Recently in San Francisco I attended a reading by Abraham Verghese, who has written my favorite book of the year: CUTTING FOR STONE. I'd gotten it from the library, and after @150 pages was so in love with it that when I heard he was going to be at the store, I returned the library copy (there's a huge line waiting for it), and bought a copy just to have the pleasure of his signature. We actually had a little chat after the reading, while he happened by on his way to his car. He asked why I'd ch ...more

My favorite parts of this sizable tome were, of course, the medical jargon and the lyrically gory descriptions of diseases and surgeries.

I guess, by now I have finally and irreversibly crossed that thin line between sanity and medicine.

Yes, all the descriptions of diseases and surgeries, and the handy medical mneumonics were like music to my ears. Really. Reading Verghese's Cutting for Stone reminded me of the conversations that I tend to have with my friends in the medical field - they inevita
Kate Merriman
Beautifully written, engrossing novel plants you deeply in the passion of practicing medicine, winds you intimately into the cloth of Ethiopia. Verghese uses language so elegantly and paces his story so perfectly that I was totally transported.

I finished the book feeling homesick for Addis Ababa, although I have never been there.

When I signed up (in several places) to review early editions of books on my blog and in other viral / social media places (like Facebook), I had that little hope that I
Aug 10, 2014 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers with medical knowledge
I'm going to start this review doing something I've never done before and that is tell what I didn't like right away. The reason for this is because I want to spend the rest of the time enumerating many of the good points. Believe me, there are a lot of those!

The only two faults I see in Cutting for Stone is that there is a lot of medical jargon. I'm surprised at the number of people who have read the book and liked it considering the length. Fortunately, my ten years of working in the medical f
Sep 20, 2011 Annalisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Annalisa by: amy gretchen
This had the potential to be amazing, a sweeping epic history of Ethiopia ala The Poisonwood Bible, but for all of Verghese's description, he failed to paint a powerful picture of Ethiopia. I expected so much more from him. He wastes 20% of the book describing the first day, but most of it I found pointless to the novel. I would much rather all that description give me something of the setting, of the characters, something powerful and enduring. Either that or cut it by a good 200 pages. But I w ...more
Oct 18, 2015 Margitte rated it really liked it
Before you read this book, consider this: the book was printed with an average of 425 words per page for 541 pages in an almost minus zero font size. That jerked my chain a bit, so I did not begin reading this book in quite the right frame of mind.

But who in their right mind would like to put down a book beginning like this:
"My brother, Shiva, and I came into the world in the late afternoon of the twentieth of September in the year of Grace 1954. We took our first breath in the thin air, 8 000
warren Cassell
Jan 26, 2009 warren Cassell rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All of you
Recommended to warren by: Random House sales rep
This is the one that started me. I read a galley and it will be published February 2. It was a sublime reading experience, the best novel I have read in several years. Back in the old days of Just Books, I probably would not have let a customer out of the store without the book in hand. In some places that might be considered pushy. In Greenwich, it was a gushing "Thanks Warren for putting this book in my hands."

Anyway, this is the story of twin doctors separated at their birth in a hospital in
Oct 26, 2012 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I hope it’s not too self-indulgent to start with a personal history here. The first I ever heard of this was when Amazon sent me one of those “since you liked x, we recommend y” mails. So right off the bat I was predisposed against it. Who wants some algorithm deciding things for them? [Insert wink that’s more than a little ironic given that I’m in the algo biz myself.] My second time hearing of it was when a nice older lady at a charity book sale was telling me how much she enjoyed it. While I ...more
Quinn Barrett
Oct 11, 2012 Quinn Barrett rated it really liked it
Cutting for Stone was like a challenging round of golf for me.

Sorry for the analogy, but here goes for anyone who has never played the most enjoyable, yet frustrating sport ever invented. I grew up playing all sorts of sports: tennis, softball, volleyball, etc. With most sports you can have a great game, but one error can ruin your enjoyment and subsequent memory of that experience.

Conversely, most of us suck big time at golf. We hook, we slice, we lose ball after ball and yet if all we have is
Nov 24, 2008 Katie rated it liked it
I liked CUTTING FOR STONE, but ultimately, it disappointed. I'd heard such glowing reviews, perhaps I was setting my self up to be underwhelmed. Still, I found Marion, the narrator, very distant and was not able to engage with his character at all.

The books contains some interesting detail about the advent of several medical procedures, and I did find the end of the book much more emotionally satisfying than the beginning and middle, but in the end, it wasn't enough. Verghese is a wonderful des
Sammy Loves Books
WOW!! What an Amazing, Epic, Journey!!
5 "Heart Rending, Family Saga" Stars!!

“Life, too, is like that. You live it forward, but understand it backward. It is only when you stop and look to the rear that you see the corpse caught under your wheel.”

Sister Mary Joseph Praise

Sister Mary

This book left me speechless in the end. This was such a beautiful story, focusing on family, love, and tragic loss. We are introduced to Sister Mary Joseph Praise. A young nun that embarks on a journey, starting in India, and
Jul 18, 2011 Barbara rated it really liked it
Shelves: health-medicine
As usual, I will not summarize the plot here, merely comment on my reaction to this book. The essences of the story are many- love/lust, heartbreak and humiliation,the ability to forgive and the trials and tribulations of life and death. It is difficult to know where to start with all of these complex, interwoven themes.

Verghese has undertaken a novel which is very broad and ambitious in scope. His geographic sweep travels from Asia, to Africa, to America, with the major part in Ethiopia. The la
Dec 02, 2012 Kalliope rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-english
Some books have a hypnotic effect and they leave you in a state of haziness when you finish them. Cutting for Stone has been such a book for me.

It is a beautiful novel because it succeeds in creating endearing personalities.

Apart from this, there is very little I can add to the very many reviews in GR, or to what the author has presented in the “Stanford Book Salon”. He acted as the Faculty Host when they chose this book in their monthly reading.

As I do not belong to the medical community, I fo
I wish I still had this book in my future. I wish it were tucked away in a stack of books on my nightstand, waiting patiently for its turn to be read. I wish I were going home tonight to curl up in a chair with nothing to do but pick up this book and slowly -- savoringly, if that's a word* -- take it in, one page at a time.

There's a lot to say about this book, but I'll simplify what could otherwise become a lengthy review (Me? Verbose? Nevah!) and say this: Cutting for Stone is a beautifully wr
Feb 04, 2016 Karen rated it it was amazing
Such a great book..,
Oct 23, 2014 Arah-Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top, i-said
A deeply affecting story of life and death and the wonders of medicine. It is hard to beleive this is a work of fiction so compelling is the bond between two brothers and the extended family that colours their lives. Brimming with medical insight and vividly set in mid-century Ethiopia this tale transports you to another time and place. Family, blood, betrayal and forgiveness... Cutting for Stone is a requiem to the healing power of love.
Apr 08, 2015 Carol rated it it was amazing
Shelves: medical, twins
I've been trying to find a few minutes to say a few words about Cutting for Stone. I didn't want to rush my take on this as I wanted to do the book justice. This is always scary territory for me, telling why I liked or disliked a book, more so when I really liked the book.

Abraham Verghese is an extremely gifted story teller, weaving his story of co-joined twins born to an Indian nun in Ethiopia with intricacy. The birth alone builds in 109 breathtaking pages and could stand alone for me. It is
Andrew Smith
Mar 12, 2015 Andrew Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Using a phrase from the Hippocratic oath as its title, this book sometimes reads like a medical textbook, such is the level of detail used to describe a multitude of practical applications. This might sound like a negative but it becomes apparent that a degree of confidence in the authenticity of medical practice adopted is paramount to the reader’s understanding and accepting of the plot as it plays out. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Set in Addis Ababa some fifty (or so) years ago, this i
Sep 08, 2014 Elyse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

I'm back again --(my friend Debbie told me I could 'edit' my own review')...

I want to say 'something' about this book again. I've given many 5 stars on books I've read ---which then makes THIS book a 5 ++++ star book!

Its exceptional! Every book club in the Bay Area was reading it at one time. The author 'always' had PACKED FULL rooms of people coming to hear him speak on this book. (I heard him speak twice).

Much could be discussed about this wonderful novel.

Note: There are t
Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it did not like it
I tried to read this book several times but it didn't hold my attention at all. I just couldn't get into it.

I realise that I am in a minority among friends for not swooning over the very brilliance of this book and the writing, oh the writing... but I didn't swoon. I slept.
Genia Lukin
Apr 02, 2011 Genia Lukin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 27, 2012 Cindi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Do you know the feeling of spending a significant portion of time reading a rather long novel and when you reach the conclusion you are actually sad to say goodbye to the complex and interesting characters that inhabit the story? I experience this phenomonon with the occasional book. This is exactly how I felt about Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

Set in the exotic and unusual locale of Ethiopia, Cutting for Stone tells the story of Marion and Shiva Stone--twin brothers. Their mother, a nu
May 31, 2012 Kim rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kim by: Jill Mcdougall
Shelves: holy-shit, heartsick

I’m not feeling that well today. I don’t know if it’s from yesterday’s chicken or the fact that I cried copious amounts of tears finishing up this book. I even got the paper wet and if you know me… you know what that means. (view spoiler)

I wouldn’t have picked up this book on my own. I had to be led to it, and that’s okay because sometimes I can walk in circles and create a rut and start to write about nasty fan-fiction that isn’t worth a tinker’s curse.

The stor
Emma Erdman
May 05, 2016 Emma Erdman rated it it was amazing
Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese, follows the life- from birth to death- of twin boys Shiva and Marion as they struggle to grow up in brutal rural Ethiopia. Set in the 1940s to the 1980s in Addis Ababa, political unrest creates a hateful and angry culture for the twins to grow up in. Marion and Shiva are born with an attachment to each other, and are very close until unfortunate events eventually pull them apart. The twins spend the majority of their childhood at Missing Hospital where the ...more
Jack Present
“Surgery was the most difficult thing I could imagine. And so I became a surgeon. Thirty years later, I am not known for speed, or daring, or technical genius.”
Cutting for Stone by, Ethiopian born, Abraham Verghese, Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at Stanford University Medical School, is a story about two twin brothers, Marion and Shiva Stone, who undergo betrayal, separation, and eventually reunite. Their stories educate the reader on the unique history of Ethiopia, racism, a
Wicked Incognito Now
I just can't listen to this anymore. I ONLY ever listen to audiobooks while exercising, and this one makes me want to lay down and take a nap.

I think audiobooks and I were just not made for each other. I can't listen to something and think about DOING anything at the same time. I can't drive and listen, I can't exercise and listen....I'm just too easily distracted. So...I give up.

Now, I'd like to say that this has no reflection on this book, but I'm afraid it does. The author goes off on tangen
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Is it just me, or was this book thoroughly disappointing? 305 1888 Aug 29, 2015 01:49PM  
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Abraham Verghese, MD, MACP, is Professor for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine and Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine.

Born of Indian parents who were teachers in Ethiopia, he grew up near Addis Ababa and began his medical training there. When Emperor Haile Selassie was deposed, he completed his training at Madras Medical Co
More about Abraham Verghese...

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“The key to your happiness is to own your slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don't. If you keep saying your slippers aren't yours, then you'll die searching, you'll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more. Not only our actions, but also our omissions, become our destiny.” 385 likes
“Wasn't that the definition of home? Not where you are from, but where you are wanted” 275 likes
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