Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

I have finished another book on my reading list. The book I read was Cutting for Stone and I very much enjoyed it.

What is it about? Without giving away too much, the story is set in Ethiopia, in the 1950s-1980s, at a fictional hospital called Missing. It centers around the story of twin brothers, who are born conjoined. The circumstances related to their birth are scandalous. Their mother was an Indian nun and their father an English surgeon. As a result of their scandalous birth circumstances, they grow up with in a mysterious atmosphere. They have a nice life in Ethiopia, their caregivers are respected expatriates, who work at a hospital. Both brothers are very interested in medicine and it becomes somewhat of an anchor, in the midst of their curious birth circumstances. The two brothers have very different personalities, one brother, Shiva, is suave and seems to attract people with ease, the other brother is more traditional, reserved and it takes people longer to get to know him. The reserved brother, Marion, loves an Eritrean girl, who grows up in the same household as him, but she has a very different life. Ultimately, the story travels all over the world, from India to Ethiopia to New York to Italy and back to Ethiopia. All the while, the boys maintain a sense of mystery, surrounding their birth, until one of the brothers goes to America, then the brothers’  world is changed drastically.

What I learned:

I learned some things about the political history of Ethiopia, such as the Occupation of Ethiopia by Italy, the occupation of parts of Eritrea by Ethiopia, I learned about Emperor Haile Selaisse and a military coup that occurred in Ethiopia.

I learned about some medical terminology, like what a fistula is.

This book made me want to learn more about Ethiopia/Eritrea, one book mentioned in the acknowledgements was the novel, To Asamara, by Thomas Keneally. I would like to read this novel and I would also like to read Ethiopia at Bay, another book mentioned in the acknowledgments, which tells about Ethiopia, under the reign of Emperor Selaisse.

Overall: The book was well-written, it was emotional, it was educational. They use many medical terms, but it only enriches the novel. I recommend it.

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