Book Review: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Title: Cutting for Stone
Author: Abraham Verghese
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Cutting for Stone is a novel about Marion and Shiva Stone, twins who grow up in the environment of the Missing hospital in Ethiopia. Their life gets off to a rocky start, as Cutting for Stonetheir mother, an Indian nun, dies in childbirth and their father, a British doctor, goes a little bit mad and runs away from it all. Despite this, Marion and Shiva are loved by their adoptive parents, Hema and Ghosh, and they both live a somewhat cherished and loving childhood and grow into successful men.

Even though this is a fictional story, I can’t help but wonder how much of it is autobiographical. Verghese himself grew up in Ethiopia, with Indian parents, and he is now a professor of medicine in the U.S. I mean, I’m sure he never killed a guy, as the narrator of the story did, but, for example, the nostalgia for his home in Ethiopia shone through and must have had at least some element of truth.

I was enchanted by this book right from the beginning. There were many parts of Marion’s story of growing up that were familiar, but at the same time the setting in Ethiopia lent it a really exotic “other” feel. Well, even though I found the setting quite enchanting, I will admit that it took until about half way through the book for the action to really get started. Marion is betrayed in a big way by his twin, Shiva, and it really sets a certain course for many of the events that happen after that.

You should note that if you’re at all squeamish, this might not be the book for you. The author goes into quite some graphic detail about medical conditions and surgeries, and at the very least some people might want to skip those parts. I will admit I quite liked those parts, but I know they wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste.

Overall, I give this book four stars. It would have been five, but I felt that some parts of the book went on a bit long. The book is about 650 pages in total, depending on which format you have, and I really felt like it would have been just as good if it were only 350. That being said, it’s still a wonderful read.