Friday, 18 January 2013

Book Review- Cutting For Stone, Abraham Verghese

Paperback, 541 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Vintage Books USA (first published February 3rd 2009)
A stunning debut novel from the author of My Own Country: an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, fathers and sons, doctors and patients, exile and home.

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin scions 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 shared fascination with medicine, the brothers come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will not be politics, but love—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding work as an intern at an underfunded Bronx hospital. When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.

Cutting for Stone—intensely suspenseful, deeply moving, and unexpectedly funny—is both an unforgettable journey into one man’s remarkable life and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.
My review-
"I believe in black holes. I believe that as the universe empties into nothingness, past and future will smack together in the last swirl around the drain."
Abraham Verghese (Cutting for Stone)
Marion and Shiva are twins born off a secret union between an Indian nun and a British surgeon. The mother dies at childbirth and the father flees away. They are then brought in a medical missionary hospital. When they grow up they begin to know their past and that goes on to define love, destiny and family for them. Cutting for Stone is a shockingly realistic story set in the Addis Ababa.
When I started reading the book, I was expecting nothing. The title however intrigued me. I didn’t know what it meant. But I went on to read it and I now know what is it. The plot is very detailed. The detailing however goes on to consume a lot of pages. It makes you take time to really get into the flow. It took me really 400 pages or so to make me really interested in the story.
Every medical procedure is described with utter precision. The detailing sometimes can make many hearts skip quite a few beats, a clear enough proof that the author has a medical background. I was okay with them but some might consider skipping through those. That however is not a big deal for me because
a. I’m not squeamish. I can deal with violent stuff.
b. I’ve gotten used to these things; blood, muscles, cuts, surgeries because I, myself am associated with these things.
The thoughts flow very poetically into the story. And the writing had me from the very first chapter itself. For those looking out for really kickass writing, let me tell you, this is the book. It has really flawless writing. Not even a single adjective is misplaced. He had everything clear in his mind before he penned it down it seems. He had completely imagined the whole piece in his head. And that is what makes this piece of fiction come alive. This is the most original, piece of writing that I’d have ever read or I’ll probably ever read in quite a long time. I’ll need a lot of light-hearted reading to counteract the effect of this book.
About the Author-
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 College and went to the United States for his residency as one of many foreign medical graduates. Like many others, he found only the less popular hospitals and communities open to him, an experience he described in one of his early New Yorker articles, The Cowpath to America.

From Johnson City, Tennessee, where he was a resident from 1980 to 1983, he did his fellowship at Boston University School of Medicine, working at Boston City Hospital for two years. It was here that he first saw the early signs of the HIV epidemic and later, when he returned to Johnson City as an assistant professor of medicine, he saw the second epidemic, rural AIDS, and his life took the turn for which he is most well known ? his caring for numerous AIDS patients in an era when little could be done and helping them through their early and painful deaths was often the most a physician could do.

His work with terminal patients and the insights he gained from the deep relationships he formed and the suffering he saw were intensely transformative; they became the basis for his first book, My Own Country : A Doctor's Story, written later during his years in El Paso, Texas. Such was his interest in writing that he decided to take some time away from medicine to study at the Iowa Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1991. Since then, his writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Texas Monthly, Atlantic, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Granta,, and The Wall Street Journal, among others.

Following Iowa, he became professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in El Paso, Texas, where he lived for the next 11 years. In addition to writing his first book, which was one of five chosen as Best Book of the Year by Time magazine and later made into a Mira Nair movie, he also wrote a second best-selling book, The Tennis Partner : A Story of Friendship and Loss, about his friend and tennis partner?s struggle with addiction. This was a New York Times' Notable Book.


Post a Comment