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Cutting for Stone

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  321,882 ratings  ·  24,685 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 disa
Hardcover, First Edition, 541 pages
Published February 3rd 2009 by Alfred A. 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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Average rating 4.29  · 
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 ·  321,882 ratings  ·  24,685 reviews

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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
Oct 02, 2010 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 bookbook…it
Jan 18, 2009 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
Oct 30, 2010 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 th
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
"Wasn’t that the definition of home? Not where you are from, but where you are wanted?"

This book is both brilliant and breathtaking. I absolutely loved it. Abraham Verghese is not only a distinguished physician, but an extremely talented writer. The prose is some of the very best I have encountered in a novel, and the story itself is hugely compelling. Verghese takes his time setting up the story and introducing the cast of characters that will be thoroughly developed throughout the course of the no
Update I didn't like the writing of this book at all, but now, after reading the Verghese's foreword to When Breath Becomes Air and being unable to get over the florid and verbose writing of that either and other people agreeing with that, I just wonder how so many people enjoyed the very similar writing in this book.

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 sw

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 inevitably will deteriora
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
Jan 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1-fiction
3.5 of 5 stars to Abraham Verghese's novel, Cutting for Stone, which was a book club selection about 7 years ago. At first, I wasn't sure I'd like the book, as I expected it to be quite sad. And back then, I wasn't interested in reading sad or emotional books; however, this one was quite good and I waffled between a 3 and a 4. I settled on a 3 only because I felt it was a little too formal / stiff for the type of book it felt like it should have been -- still above average to me, as far as books go.

Oct 24, 2011 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
Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters

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 d
Feb 23, 2011 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 wouldn' ...more
Oct 26, 2012 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
Apr 02, 2013 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 feet abothis:
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
I read this book years ago and I still find myself recommending it at least monthly to someone. It is so beautifully written, so moving, so involving, so perfect. I loved every single page of this book.

Marion and Shiva Stone are twins born to a Nun (yes you read correctly) and a British Surgeon in Addis Ababa (I know right, Where? ). They are orphaned after their father's disappearance and their Mother's death in childbirth. The boys are then raised by Hema and Ghosh, the two Indian
Jun 29, 2010 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
warren Cassell
Jan 26, 2009 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
For years now this wonderful book has been sitting on my unread books shelf. It has occasionally whispered my name, but I have always told it “next time.” I am so pleased that I finally broke that pattern, for this book is one of those not to be missed experiences. (Permission granted to my friend, Candi, to say “I told you so.”)

The author, Abraham Verghese, is a physician, and his experience and knowledge come through in spades. They add a level of realism and veracity to the story
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-said, top
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.
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
All the stars! I loved this story!
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Such a great book..,
Natalie Richards
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-book
4.5. A really wonderful story, and very moving, that will stay with me for a long time.
Apr 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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 Ethi
Quinn Barrett
Apr 10, 2012 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 an
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 written story
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, loveStars!!
Andrew Smith
Dec 27, 2014 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
Nov 23, 2008 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
Jul 29, 2010 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
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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 Madra
“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.” 451 likes
“Wasn't that the definition of home? Not where you are from, but where you are wanted” 345 likes
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