If you want to visit an exotic land and be swept up in a world of love, faith, family, power and medicine, let me make a recommendation: Pick up a copy of Abraham Varghese's first novel, Cutting for Stone.
I rarely read fiction. And if I do, it's usually a short and easy-reading book. I simply don't have the awake time or physical energy (especially given the stack of books and manuscripts waiting for my review, as well as all the non-fiction books I read in preparation for writing my column and books).
But I am always hungry for insights about healing, even if I get them from a novel. So I'm glad I made an exception.
Cutting for Stone is a masterfully crafted novel that pulled me in and didn't let go until I reached the last page. Periodically I found myself re-reading a sentence or two, just to experience the pleasure of reading particularly pretty prose again.
I consider a book good if I find myself still thinking about the book's characters when I'm not reading, and if I'm rethinking some old ideas in new ways. Varghese's book is very, very good.
My only caveat: Cutting for Stone is a long book (534 pages), and when you get to the end you are going to wish it was longer.