Reserve Watch: ‘Cutting For Stone’

From all accounts, Abraham Verghese wowed the crowd as part of a stellar author breakfast at ALA MidWinter.

His first novel, Cutting for Stone (he’s written two memoirs, The Tennis Partner, 1998, and My Own Country, 1994) is being reviewed widely and is building reserve lists in some libraries.

Verghese’s also won over Tina Brown, who interviews him in The Daily Beast this week. She says his book kept her “absorbed and enthralled all the way to India two weeks ago.”

It’s a book with a complex narrative, making it difficult, if not exhausting, to describe. Writing about this #1 Indie Next List pick for March, bookseller Meredith Allison gave up on plot summary altogether and just said,

Cutting for Stone resists easy categorization — it is just as much the chronicle of a bond between twin brothers and family as it is a book about medicine, or a story of grace. Verghese’s carefully drawn characters are compelling and unforgettable — this is a book you will have to share with others, if you can bear parting with your copy.

In the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, the reviewer acknowledges that readers may not leap at the book,

Any doubts you might (reasonably) harbor about a 534-page first novel by a physician in his 50s will be allayed in the first few pages of this marvelous book. Abraham Verghese has written two graceful memoirs — the first about his experiences with AIDS patients in Appalachia, the second about his friendship with a drug-addicted medical student — but Cutting for Stone, his wildly imaginative fictional debut, is looser, bigger, even better.

NYT Book Review was more critical, saying the novel should be lauded for its ambition but that it gets bogged down in overwriting.

Other reviews:

Washington Post Book World, 2/1, “Healing the Past; A doctor’s search for his twin brother”

Even with its many stories and layers, Cutting for Stone remains clear and concise. Verghese paints a vivid picture of these settings, the practice of medicine (he is also a physician) and the characters’ inner conflicts. I felt as though I were with these people, eating dinner with them even

San Francisco Chronicle, 2/1, Cutting for Stone

With all the traits of a great 19th century novel – a personal and intense narrative with coincidences and an unexpected denouement – Cutting for Stone is destined for success.


Cutting for Stone

Vergese, Abraham

  • Hardcover: $26.95; 560 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (February 3, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0375414495
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375414497
  • eBook Download: OverDrive

  • Audio CD: $44.95
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (February 3, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 0739382853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739382851
  • Download: Overdrive

One Response to “Reserve Watch: ‘Cutting For Stone’”

  1. New Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers | EarlyWord: The Publisher | Librarian Connection Says:

    […] Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese almost made the leap from the NYT extended list to the main list, moving from #34 to #17 this week. It’s not showing on the USA Today list.  […]