Co-joined (Siamese) twins are separated at birth but sustain an unbreakable bond throughout the vicissitudes of life in Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia, and even after one of the twins, Marion, must flee to the United States for political reasons. A good picture of life in Ethiopia and lots of medical details (both boys become doctors) in addition to thematic elements concerning family loyalty and the meaning of commitment make this 560 page first novel by Verghese, a doctor himself, worth the read.
Other, more detailed reviews:
The Book Lady’s Blog: “Vergheseâ€™s writing is intense, detailed, and precise but in no way cold or detached. His characters are fully realized, and their relationships with each other ring of truth. There are moments of tension, surprise, delight, pain, betrayal, confusion, and loss, and every last one is beautifully done.”
Word Lily: “I loved much about this book. I loved the medicine, the twins, Ethiopia, the family. . . . The questions of faith held my attention best (not surprisingly).”
Amanda at Calder Reading Room: “In all, I can see why this book was recommended by NPR, the writing was really good, it was witty at parts, touching at others, but it had too much sex for me.”
Just one more program note from Semicolon: I think this one will appeal to fans of The Kite Runner (Semicolon review here) and A Thousand Splendid Suns (Semicolon review here) both by Khaled Hosseini (unless it was just the Afghanistan angle that drew you into those two books). Cutting for Stone has the same foreign-ness, the same cultural detail, the same vivid characterization, the same universal themes explored within a cross-cultural history.