Librarian Picks: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

In Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese blends medicine, culture, religion, and family saga into a compelling Zhivago-esque tale set in India, Ethiopia and New York. At the start of the novel, a nun trained as a nurse in India and a surgeon trained in Scotland arrive in post-World War II Ethiopia to work in a small medical clinic.  Sister Mary Joseph Praise and Thomas Stone form an efficient surgical team, providing services valued by emperor and everyman. When Sister Mary Joseph Praise dies while giving birth to twins and Stone abandons his twin sons, the remaining doctors step in to raise Marion and Shiva Stone.

While the story is set mostly within the political turmoil of 1960’s and 1970’s Ethiopia, the novel makes significant historical events personal.  Marion Stone, the novel’s narrator, moves from Ethiopia to New York, and grows to adulthood and advances through his medical training.  Marion observes the world around him, describing political events, the poverty and humanity of the patients, the skill of the doctors and aides, and innovative practice of medicine in challenging settings.  Verghese avoids stereotypes and simplifications to portray life and death at the clinic and the unforeseen consequences of individual choices.  In doing so, he banishes western preconceptions about African medical care.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is in the Amesse collection, first floor Commons alcove, call number F VERGHESE CUT.

[Lynne Fox, Education Librarian]