Cutting for Stone Cutting for Stone question

What are your thoughts about Genet?
Viviana D. Otero Viviana D. Jul 02, 2011 08:56PM
Beautifully written novel about the love between two twin brothers and their perception of the challenges they face from the moment they are born. Dr. Abraham Verghese composes an arrangement of stringed words to form a symphony of unforgettable sentences in a haunting book about betrayal, forgiveness, and redemption during an apathetic and dangerous time in Ethiopia. I recommend this book to everyone!

Here's a thought about Genet, a character I struggled with for a variety of reasons. Perhaps by making Genet such a conflicted and "unredeemed" character, Verghese is making a statement about nature vs. nurture. Although all three children benefitted from the nurturing presence of Gosh and Hema and should have been equally successful as human beings and medical experts, it is only the two boys who find success both in the medical world and as redeemed human beings. By making this choice, the author seems to be giving more credence to nature, the irrepressible force at work within the twins. The product of the union between a distant medical genius and saintly, albeit complicated, mother, the twins benefit from their genetics without the benefit of their parenting. Genet, too, could not escape the inevitable influence of her biological parents regardless of the positive influence of Hema and Ghosh. She takes on the activist spirit of her father and the fierce pride and volatility of her mother. It does not seem too unlikely that a medical doctor/writer would lean more towards the power of the biological influence over the emotional.

I initially loved Genet in this story. She had spunk, intelligence and knew what she wanted. Unfortunately, the writer broke her. Yea I agree that she went home to a different family who did not appreciate her independence, but Marion really loved her and felt betrayed. She was considered a rebel in that social setting.

I endorse your venting. I felt something was off with the treatment of Genet in the book but wouldn't have been able to articulate it as you have -- "she as never given the same respect of 'redemption' at the end of the story as much as every other character." Like the author just didn't have the energy to care about her the same way he did his other characters.

Elyse, great comment. That put into words the very thing that had bothered me as well, much as I enjoyed the book overall. But then again, it is not unusual for the woman to have different consequences than the man (in literature and in life)!

Thank you for all of these great comments on Genet. I had noticed that I wasn't quite satisfied with Genet's story, but I could not put my finger on it. Your comments have given me food for thought!

Interesting question. I think the short answer is that this story wasn't Genet's story. She could have a whole book of her own, where we see her motivations and loves more clearly, but this book wasn't it. This was Marion's story.

I think Marion had no reason to love Genet. In fact she didn't even deserve his love - not saying she was a bad person - she just didn't love him back. She wasn't interested in him. She shouldn't be faulted for that. (Kind of like Barbara Allen - I don't see that she should be blamed for not loving someone who loved her.)

I also, with no evidence whatsoever and apologies to Verghese, imagine that through no real fault of his own, the author is likely subconsciously sexist. Women are often portrayed in literature only as mother figures or as sexual beings. Their real motivations, or rather their deeper motivations, are not often considered. Genet's character is definitely an example of this.

But at the same time I go back to the cop out that this isn't her story. Her story is somewhere in the reader's imagination. It would be a remarkable book for Verghese to write: Genet's story.

Genet spiced up the story with love and adventure. Being naked in the kitchen ready to seduce a boy. She was a (hot) one who was ready to explore. Marion wanted the girl and the white Pickett fence. When Genet just wanted to experience sex. Shiva gave her what she wanted.

I found Genet to be a selfish and a self centered young lady. She didn't think of what her actions would do to other people. She broke Marion's heart without caring about it.

Mind if I chime in here? I read this book when it was first released. I've read all 3 of Abraham Verghese's books. I've seen him speak twice in the Bay Area. You might say--I'm a 'fan' of his work --his writing -his passion-his humor speaking in front of a room of readers -- I think he is one heck of a human being.

"Cutting For Stone" is one of my favorite books, also --(I really enjoyed "The Tennis Player" by Verghese very much, too) --
but the part that bothered me (for weeks after having read it), was that Genet was never given the same respect of 'redemption' at the end the end of the story as much as 'every' other character. (WHY???). Couldn't he see what she had gone through??
Couldn't he see 'his' role in obsessiveness?
He was able to forgive his brother -his parents ---but it was like pulling teeth for him to forgive Genet.
'Genet' was raised with many of the same opportunities as the two brothers (private education for example) -- but she was NOT the same ---
She went home each night to a very different home than the two brothers.
After that 'horrific day when her mother cut her ---Genet was never the same. It was shocking to see how selfish Marion was.

I often wondered was that 'Marion's character ---
Did that part of the book say something about the author himself?

I asked this question of Abraham at a book reading one night ---and to be honest---he didn't answer me. He dodged the question. Instead it took that question --and expanded onto another subject altogether.

I still love the guy. My passion for him was 2-fold ---5 fold --after reading "The Tennis Partner". (wow-what a story!!!)

Just had to vent....(its what we do here on Goodreads some days ---isn't it?)

Thank You!

We sure get love our books!!!!


Elyse Walters Gala: I'll respond to our personal e-mails! ...more
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Kathie (last edited Dec 29, 2012 05:36AM ) Dec 29, 2012 05:22AM   -1 votes
This was the best book I read in 2012. There is a local book group I usually participate in and I missed this selection when they read and discussed it. My daughter knew of my regret at missing that one and gave the book to me for Christmas last year.... This year she bought me "The Casual Vacancy"

Now- your question:
For me, the relationship between the brothers was deeply defined by the role Genet played in their teen years. The earlier pace and details of the story, that appear to frustrate some readers, served to characterize everyone else and laid the foundation for that crisis between the brothers involving Genet. Very astute...Genet was catalytic in bringing to the surface the differences in the brothers and their adult relationship, which deepened the story for me. As for you, haunting is also how this book affected me. And, it set the bar high for what I read the rest of the year!

( .....Can't wait to see how my daughter did picking a book for me again)!

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