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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“A winner. . . . Filled with mystical scenes and deeply felt characters. . . . Verghese is something of a magician as a novelist.”
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Q: Your previous two books are non-fiction, but you’ve said that you have always thought of
yourself as a fiction writer first. How so?
A: Fiction is truly my first love. To paraphrase Dorothy Allison, fiction is the great lie that tells the truth about how the world really lives. It is why in teaching medical students I use Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych to teach about end-of-life, and Bastard out of Carolina to help students really understand child abuse. A textbook rarely gives them the kind of truth or understanding achieved in the best fiction.
One of my first published short stories was “Lilacs,” in which the protagonist has HIV. Its appearance in The New Yorker in 1991 was a part of what led to my contract to write My Own Country, a memoir of my years of caring for persons with HIV in rural Tennessee. While writing that book I found myself living through an intense personal story of friendship and loss that led to a second non-fiction book, The Tennis Partner. But after that, I passed up on an offer to write a third non-fiction book. I was keen to get back to fiction, to explore that kind of truth.
Read the complete interview.