Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese was a recommendation from Border's Books website. I visit the site and their store often because they offer huge selection and good prices. I'm so hoping recent rumors about Border's demise are false.
I don't normally buy books simply because they appear on best seller lists, but I made an exception for this one. The title told me nothing, but the synopses intrigued me.
The story is about several Indians who take medical training in India and wind up in a poor, Catholic mission hospital in Ethiopia. The time period is during Emperor Haile Selassie's reign and exile and Mengistu's power grab. Ethiopia and Eritrea are struggling with the legacy of Italian colonialism and have yet to separate. The entire Horn of Africa is a mess having just gained independence from various European interlopers.
This is the stage onto which conjoined twins are born to an unlikely pair and barely survive their birth and separation. Their mother dies in the process and their father, a gifted surgeon, abandons them in shame and horror. The twins go on to take medical training and work with their surrogate parents in the mission hospital.
The story is deeply compelling and the characters are beautifully developed. The situations they encounter are wrapped in the political turmoil of their times and places. As complex and passionate as the characters and situations are, the multiple tales Mr. Verghese tells are perfectly interwoven and though the ending is surprising, it is completely satisfying and believable.