Dr. Abraham Verghese turns his remarkable empathy into powerful fiction in this story that draws on his medical training, his years of practice, and his childhood in Ethiopia. The principal narrator of Cutting For Stone (Knopf, $26.95) is Marion Praise Stone, one of a set of identical twins born to a dying nurse, Sister Mary Joseph Praise, in Addis Ababa in the early 1950s. The father, surgeon Thomas Stone, disappeared immediately after their birth, leaving the twins to be raised by Dr. Hemlatha and Dr. Ghosh, who followed Hema to Addis to work in the mission hospital. The backdrop is Ethiopia’s deteriorating political situation during and after Haile Selassie’s regime. Verghese’s capacity for empathy was notable in his previous nonfiction, as was his interest in the human condition. But to spin an imaginative tale is a talent of a different order, and he has exceeded expectation. There is great assurance in Verghese’s writing and ebullience in his storytelling.


With Cutting For Stone (Knopf, $26.95), Abraham Verghese has written a totally absorbing 500-plus page story that draws on his medical training, his life as an immigrant physician in the U.S., and his childhood and youth in Ethiopia. The novel is narrated by Marion Praise Stone, one of a set of identical twin boys born to a dying nurse, Sister Mary Joseph Praise, in Addis Ababa in the early ’50s. The father, surgeon Thomas Stone, disappeared immediately after their birth, leaving the twins to be raised by Dr. Hemlatha and Dr. Ghosh, who followed Hema to Addis to work in the mission hospital. The backdrop is Ethiopia’s deteriorating political situation during and after Haille Sellassie’s regime. Verghese’s capacity for empathy was notable in his previous nonfiction, as was his interest in the human condition. But to spin an imaginative tale is a talent of a different order and he has exceeded expectation. There is such assurance in Verghese’s writing and ebullience in his storytelling.

 

Cutting for Stone: A novel Cover Image
$32.50
ISBN: 9780375414497
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Knopf - February 3rd, 2009

Cutting for Stone Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9780375714368
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Published: Vintage - January 26th, 2010

Border Songs is an engaging, satisfying and immensely entertaining story. The appeal stems largely from the novel’s main character, Brandon Vanderkool. Brandon is six foot eight, severely dyslexic and has an uncanny affinity for the natural world. Working as a border patrol agent along the U.S. Canada border in Washington state, he indulges his passion for bird-watching while keeping an alert eye to potential terrorists and pot smugglers. The forests and farms of northern Washington are beautifully described and play a key role in the story. It’s in this landscape that Brandon’s father Norm operates a dairy farm. His struggle to maintain his business and look after his animals is described with unerring detail. The plot’s satisfying twists and turns largely focus on industrial marijuana production in British Columbia and its importation into the lower 48, but the most lasting and compelling aspect of Border Songs is the characters–-their originality, vitality, and freshness make this a truly stand-out novel.

Brandon Vanderkool is a gentle giant, a dyslexic border patrol agent working the northern border of Washington and western Canada.  More at home in the woods with animals and birds than he is with people, he’s a natural tracker but somewhat clumsy with bureaucracy.  Border Songs (Knopf, $25.95), by Jim Lynch, tells Brandon’s remarkable, eccentric, and ultimately heroic story.  After 9/11, the once barely-observed border is heavily monitored by cameras and planes, and cross-border neighbors eye each other warily. Add to this a marijuana-smuggling operation based in British Columbia, and Brandon and his fellow agents have a lot on their hands.  With a graceful regard for the natural world and a motley cast of characters, Border Songs is an utterly original and unforgettable novel.

Border Songs (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780307456267
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Published: Vintage - July 13th, 2010

Hans van den Broek is disoriented for many reasons. Born and raised in Holland, he married an English woman and lives in New York City.  After the World Trade Center attack, the family fled their downtown apartment and moved, they thought temporarily, to the very bizarre Chelsea Hotel. Rachel felt increasingly insecure in New York and decamped to London with the couple’s young son, Jake. For two years Hans has been frozen geographically and emotionally in his New York job analyzing oil projects for a large financial firm. He partially fills the void of his separation by friendship with a larger-than-life Trinidadian of Indian descent whom he met through cricket, a game he is passionately fond of.  Joseph O’Neill’s existential novel Netherland (Pantheon, $23.95) expresses the strangeness felt by New Yorkers after 9/11 and, indeed, the sense of dislocation we all feel in the new world that has come into being.

Hans van den Broek, the alienated protagonist of Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland (Vintage, $14.95), remains in New York when his lawyer wife, anxious after 9/11, returns to Britain with their son. Meanwhile, Hans’s mother, the only parent he remembers, has died in the Netherlands. To dispel his depression, Hans seeks out a weekly cricket game with a bunch of ex-colonials and falls in with Chuck Ramkissoon, a mysterious Trinidadian. Chuck’s schemes and energy become a counterweight to Hans’s passivity. The pacing of the novel, the simplicity of the plot, and the focus on a few characters, make Hans’s sadness and Chuck’s grandiosity stand out. This prize-winning novel is deceptively simple, and immensely thought provoking.

Netherland (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780307388773
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Published: Vintage - May 7th, 2009

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