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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cutting For Stone, by Abraham Verghese, 2009 * * * *

A sweeping, emotionally riveting novel — an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home. Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia. Orphaned by their mother's death in childbirth 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. Verghese recreates the Ethiopia of Haile Selassie - a place suffused with flavors, colors, scents and sounds. Ultimately, the political events in Ethiopia, and family betrayals send Marion fleeing to the United States where he finds refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital where the only interns are from overseas. 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 surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him. Even the remarkable coincidences of the final third of the book never feel anything less than pitch-perfect  - a tribute to the author’s carefully-constructed plot and writing. A riveting tale of love, medicine, and the complex dynamic of twin brothers it was one of my favorite books of 2009.

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