I embarked on the journey of reading Abraham Verghese’s novel Cutting for Stone this week, a task not to be taken lightly when more than 600 pages are involved. This wealth of a novel brings with it an incredible complexity as it follows generations through the years.
The character Marion Stone tells the tale of his past in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Africa. Abandoned as orphans at birth, Marion and his twin Shiva are now raised by a gynecologist named Hema and an internal medicine doctor named Gosh. Their mother Sister Mary Joseph Praise, a surgeon’s assistant, died in childbirth while their father Thomas Stone, her surgeon, ran away upon her death. Missing Hospital was radically transformed by their departures, both by their absence and the fresh arrival of the twins. Caring for the twins brings Hema and Ghosh together, allowing them to realize their emotions of affection for each other that were buried all along.
Although I’m only about a third through the novel, it’s amazing to me just how thorough it is. The immense number of details help to paint a complete picture of this foreign world, and Verghese tackles many issues head-on. He not only skims the surface of these themes, such as medicine, religion, Indian culture, class, and more, but he delves into them and illuminates their depths. This elegantly written novel immerses the reader into an entirely different world; it’s the kind of book that I just don’t want to put down.
- What does this novel illuminate about illness from over a doctor’s shoulder?
- Discuss how the forces of religion and science are portrayed differently.
- How does Verghese successfully draw the reader into this tale?