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Cutting for Stone

4.26 of 5 stars 4.26  ·  rating details  ·  192,244 ratings  ·  19,667 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,...more
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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Community Reviews

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Jason
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...more
Alex
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...more
Sara
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...more
Ayaz
“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...more
Nataliya

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...more
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
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...more
Judy
Aug 10, 2014 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Annalisa
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
warren Cassell
Jan 26, 2009 warren Cassell rated it 5 of 5 stars
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...more
Steve
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
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...more
Barbara
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...more
Katie
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...more
Kalliope
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...more
Katie
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...more
Kim
May 31, 2012 Kim rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kim by: Jill Mcdougall
Shelves: heartsick, holy-shit

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...more
Genia Lukin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul
The general book blurb below sums up the novel well; it is a sweeping story, ambitious in its scope and range.

"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, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revol...more
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...more
Marge
I took time finishing this book. Although it is an easy read, the writing is so good that some of the lines warranted second, even third, reading. It is also the second book I read this year that has a protagonist with a twin brother. Pure coincidence.

When I finished a really good book, it's hard for me to shake the feeling of loss. This is an excellent read and I am highly recommending it to friends. You will not be disappointed.
Trish
Unequivocably fine. The authorial control over the number of carefully- drawn characters, the time-span, the continental shift, the depth of medical knowledge, the sheer size of the story--all these inspire awe. The novel also inspired gratitude in me--that the author shared his story with us, taught us things about medicine we didn't, couldn't know, and for trusting us to rejoice in the differentness of his construction. And for the time. I hope he got as much out of the telling as we have gott...more
Tim
"What treatment in the emergency room is administered by ear?" asked the renowned surgeon Thomas Stone [to over 200 young interns and students at a leading Boston medical teaching facility:]. I knew the answer because it was in his book, a book I had read carefully and more than once in my voyage out of Ethiopia and during my stay in Kenya. Surely, I thought, at least 50 would know the answer. No one spoke. I raised my hand, "Yes?" he said. All eyes were on me. I was in no hurry. None at all. I...more
Cindi
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...more
Kelly
After reading this epic medical saga I am confident that I can now fix a bowel obstruction, do a vasectomy, perform a liver transplant or repair a burst uterus on the fly. It makes me feel very useful hahaha!

The writing in this book is beautiful and mesmerized me. I absolutely loved Ghosh, Hema, Almaz, Stone, Marion, Tsige but hated other characters. This is always the calling card of books I passionately love. Acts of heroism and love by Almaz, Ghosh, Marion and Hema moved me so much. All of t...more
Margitte
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
...more
Petra Xtra Crunchy
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.
Joy H.
_Cutting for Stone_ by Abraham Verghese (first published 2009)
Added 4/13/11:
NOTE ABOUT THE TITLE: For an explanation of the title of this book, see the end of this review.

4/13/11: I recently read a sample of this book at:
http://books.google.com/ebooks/reader... and now I can't wait to read the rest of it.

5/12/11: The book has finally come in at the library. What a wonderful writer Verghese is! The lyricism of his writing is compelling. I'm up to Chapter 5. The map in the book helps a lot since...more
Thomas
Aug 20, 2011 Thomas rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in medicine, specifically surgery
Recommended to Thomas by: My high school geometry teacher
To write a book like Cutting for Stone requires a lot of ambition. It's a novel that travels over three different continents, details a countless amount of medical procedures, and includes manifold themes, such as: the importance of family, love vs. lust, patriotism, forgiveness in the face of betrayal, etc.. It it were a poem, it could be considered an epic.

Unfortunately, the verbose writing style of Verghese stole the essence of the story. I can clearly see how phenomenal this book would have...more
bookczuk
Oct 28, 2010 bookczuk rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: julia
Recommended to bookczuk by: Jackie the librarian
Two days after finishing, I'm still digesting all the themes and stories in this book. There were so many moments that just stunned me, either with the elegance of writing, the ebullience of the human spirit or the eloquence of the scenes and details. Perhaps the fact that I have a medical background in one of the areas of specialty of one of the characters or that I spent many years in a rural health clinic in India helped to draw me in. But even without that, I think I still would have been ca...more
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Is it just me, or was this book thoroughly disappointing? 296 1795 Sep 30, 2014 09:29AM  
What made you like or dislike this book? 9 85 Sep 29, 2014 08:34PM  
Hamburg Book Club: September's Meeting 3 11 Sep 12, 2014 06:26PM  
Boston Bookworms: Discuss: Cutting for Stone 1 8 Aug 17, 2014 06:12PM  
Bookworm Bitches : July 2014: Cutting for Stone 15 128 Aug 16, 2014 07:03PM  
Joyce's Reading Log: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese 1 4 Jun 17, 2014 01:26PM  
  • State of Wonder
  • Strength in What Remains: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness
  • Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
  • Mudbound
  • Those Who Save Us
  • Sweetness in the Belly
  • A Fine Balance
  • The Whistling Season
  • Beneath the Lion's Gaze
  • Eventide (Plainsong, #2)
  • Still Alice
  • Half of a Yellow Sun
  • Angle of Repose
  • The Disappeared
  • People of the Book
  • Animal Dreams
  • The Space Between Us
  • Someone Knows My Name
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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
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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.” 333 likes
“Wasn't that the definition of home? Not where you are from, but where you are wanted” 224 likes
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