Cutting for Stone

by Abraham Verghese

{ 2009 | Knopf | 560 pgs }

You may recall that I try to avoid reading book reviews or even hearing general feedback before I read any given book. I’m too easily swayed by others’ opinions. I’d seen the title Cutting for Stone appear on several lists of recommended books, and, as I said, it was also suggested by sposita, so I added it to my list for the year without having (or wanting) any inkling what it was about.

Holy cow, guys. This is the best book I’ve read all year, including The Hunger Games.

I know that seems like a lofty claim. And to be fair, the books are so different that they probably can’t be compared; I’ll just say that Cutting for Stone is the best non-YA fiction book I’ve read in ages. Do you know how many books I’ve read in the last 6 years? (I do, but not off the top of my head. It’s a lot.) This may very well be my top pick from all those books.

So…are you interested now? Want to know what it’s about?

Briefly (so as not to spoil anything, or sway your opinion), Cutting for Stone is narrated by an identical twin born to an Indian nun working in Ethiopia in the 1950s. It begins with his mother’s story, then describes his life in Ethiopia until he is forced into exile and comes to America. Verghese is a doctor himself and most of the major characters in the book are officially or unofficially part of the medical profession as well. I really don’t want to tell you much more about the plot because I desperately want you to go read the book yourself. If you’ve ignored all of my other recommendations, take this one. The story is riveting, expertly woven and written, poignant.