Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Three of the best books about Ethiopia

At the Guardian, Pushpinder Khaneka tagged three top books on Ethiopia. One title on the list:
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

In 1954, a young Indian nun working at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa dies while giving birth to identical twins. Their father, a well-respected British surgeon, disappears, abandoning the boys. Fortunately for the twins, the two doctors who deliver them become their loving, adoptive parents.

This big, bittersweet, beautifully written novel, set mostly around the hospital, follows the family’s fortunes over five decades. As the boys come of age, Ethiopia’s turbulent politics – executions, rebellions, coups – play out sometimes on the periphery of their personal story and sometimes at its very centre.

The “elder” twin, Marion, narrates the tale, at the heart of which is an act of betrayal that breaks the strong bond between him and his brother Shiva.

When political events take a dangerous turn, forcing Marion to flee to New York, he finds himself becoming entangled with his past and forced to come to terms with it.

Verghese, an acute observer, vividly evokes life at the hospital and in the bustling capital. He delivers a page-turning, emotionally absorbing tale – despite a surfeit of medical detail (the book’s title is a phrase from the Hippocratic oath).

The Ethiopian-born author is a doctor who lives, writes and teaches medicine in the US. This, his first novel, has sold more than a million copies.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue