Cutting for Stone

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon. Orphaned by their mother’s death and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Moving from Addis Ababa to New York City and back again, Cutting for Stone is an unforgettable story of love and betrayal, medicine and ordinary miracles--and two brothers whose fates are forever intertwined.

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667 pages

Average rating: 8.43




Community Reviews

Apr 04, 2024
7/10 stars
Abraham Verghese is an Ethiopian-born American doctor of Indian heritage. Verghese is a professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California. In 2009, Abraham Verghese published the novel, Cutting for Stone. Cutting for Stone is told from the perspective of an Ethiopian-born character Marion Stone who is of British and English heritage. The title of the book comes from the phrase from a translation of the Hippocratic Oath which the followers of the Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates of Kos recited. Anesthesiologist Joseph B. Hinston writes that “the direct passage mentioned in the novel, “I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifested. I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, and specialists in this art.” The original passage refers to the practice of lithotomy” (Hinston 2011). Lithotomy is a surgery that removes a “compact and hard mass” (Research Branch 1978) of a material within a duct or organ in a human body which is most commonly caused by mineral salts. The characters are all affected by their interaction with an Indian-born surgeon of British heritage named Thomas Stone. The book is interested in the different ways to be a doctor and surgeon. The book is also interested in how to be an ethical doctor and a surgeon. The book has a lot of medical information. Verghese did a lot of research to write the novel. The novel has a bibliography. I agree with Hinston that “Verghese draws on his own experiences to help the reader understand the Ethiopian culture and surroundings by eloquently describing the country's social unrest, class divisions, customs, traditions, and daily lifestyle." My favorite part of the book was when Marion Stone became a medical intern in a hospital in the Bronx in New York City between chapters 38 and 42. Abraham Verghese’s novel, Cutting for Stone is a historical and medical novel of epic proportions. I found the review by Joseph B. Hinston useful in writing this ‘review.’ Works Cited: Hinston, Joseph B. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. Anesthesiology. Volume 115, Issue 6 (December 2011): 1393-1394. Research Branch of the Canada Department of Agriculture. 1978. Glossary of Terms in Soil Science. Ottawa, Canada: Information Services of the Canada Department of Agriculture. pub1459_report.pdf (
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Dec 28, 2023
6/10 stars
Many of my public health friends loved this book. I found the issues around access to medicine very interesting, but the story itself not so much. That being said, it was worth a try.
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Dec 27, 2023
8/10 stars
This one has been on my list for a long time, I was a bit intimidated by the length I think. It was well worth the time. Verghese transported me to places I could never experience and consistently revealed the humanity in our actions. We saw Addis Ababa in peace and war and siege. We were invited to the side of skilled physicians working with little or no support, few fancy tools.
Verghese's tale of twin brothers lives and loves and foibles in this setting is poignant and powerful.
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Sep 08, 2023
9/10 stars
Excellent story. Taking place in Africa about Indian doctors who help ‘orphaned’ twin brothers.
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Jun 03, 2023
10/10 stars
What a beautiful book! I am absolutely enamored of Abraham Varghese's writing. His characters all came to life for me in the reading of this book and their stories will live on in my mind as heroic yet human individuals who I feel honored to have met in the pages of this book.
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