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Cutting For StoneCutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The book starts with two nuns from India, who have undergone training as nurses, leaving to Ethiopia. They travel in a cargo ship. Soon they find themselves tending the people in the ship as they start falling sick. One of the passengers is a young white doctor, Dr. Stone, who too falls sick. The Sister Mary Joseph Praise one of the nuns nurses him while the other nun falls sick.

The doctor and the nun fail to revive the nun and she succumbs to the sickness. The nun is expected to work in Aden while the Dr. Stone is expected to work in Adissababa. The nun goes through a very bad experience in Aden which and ends up going to the same hospital as Dr. Stone. The matron who runs the hospital takes Mary Praise under her umbrage and she becomes an indispensable assistant to Dr. Stone during his operations. They work together as a team to save many a lives.

The hospital has two other doctors of Indian origin a lady, Hema, who is an obstetrician and a Dr. Ghosh who is a general practitioner. Mary Praise, Ghosh and Hema have all worked at the Madras General Hospital and feel close to each other.

One fine day their lives turn upside down. Mary Praise dies delivering a twin boys. Dr. Stone who has fathered them runs away having failed to save Mary whom he loves. It is upto Hema and Ghosh to bring up the twins. Soon they find themselves living as a family and Ghosh becomes a surgeon as they find no other replacement for Dr. Stone.

The two boys grow up along with the child of an Eritrean maid who serves Hema at her home. One of the twin Shiva is quite and other Marion makes up for both of them. Genet, the maid’s daughter, is a constant companion to both of them at home and at school.

The twins are almost inseparable. Ghosh dies of leukemia. Genet goes to Eritrea and comes back singing paeans of Eritrea. Soon a series of events happen and Genet ends up as an Eritrean freedom fighter and hijacks an Ethiopian Airlines plane and take it to Khartoum, Marion is suspected of supporting Genet and the local police is after him and he runs off to the US. Shiva continues to assist his mother and becomes the authority on fistula operations.

The rest of the story is about how Marion meets his father who is now a renowned surgeon in the US and how another series of disasters lead to the death of Shiva and sends Marion back to Ethiopia.

It is a good read for people who have no idea of Ethiopia. Not sure if the Ethiopians will be able to appreciate it. It may be too shallow for them.

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