Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Book that Defies Categorization

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Normally I read a book all the way through, sometimes in a few days, sometimes over a weekend. But this book called to me the entire time I was away from it. I wanted to immerse myself into the lives of the characters, into this warm cocoon of family love in unfamiliar surroundings.

There are many levels of intellectual challenge here - the foreign-ness (for most of us) of Ethiopia. The sterile, other worldliness of the operating room; the super sensitive connection of the twins; the religious background of their mother; the rigid rejection of their father and the overwhelming devotion of their adoptive parents. I love a book that demands something of its reader; this book requires your attention.

The way in which medical expertise is interwoven into the narrative is extraordinary and does not detract from the power of the story. I loved every minute of the surgical descriptions and unlike many reviewers, did not skim through them. That is because the writer made these scenes crucial in revealing insight into the characters, whose personalities and histories are vividly portrayed and far beyond stereotypical.

I congratulate Mr. Verghese for having the courage to deviate from the same ol' formulaic drivel that is filling up our libraries today. This book defies categorization and dares to be different. It is a fitting and admirable tribute, in every way, to its author. 

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