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Familial relationships are fascinating. Novelists, screenwriters, stage writers, songwriters and poets are all obsessed with the subject.
It seems that in a world with billions of families, no two of them work the same. There are always some members closer than others, in-jokes, habits and routines, but also disputes, lies and betrayals.
The authors of the books on this list of books like ‘Cutting For Stone’ all chose to wrestle with this tumultuous, tricky subject.
Image Source: Shewriteswoman
I have recommended this book before, in my list of Nigerian female authors, but it is worthy of its place on this list because it has many similarities to ‘Cutting For Stone’.
Both ‘Ghana Must Go’ and ‘Cutting For Stone’ open with a death. They both feature families that are fractured and spread over large distances, but which must come back together under difficult circumstances. They both feature twins with extraordinary connections but who have been torn apart.
If you’re looking for a book like ‘Cutting For Stone’, look no further.
Image Source: Austin Chronicle
This book is different to ‘Cutting For Stone’ in many ways. The tone is much warmer, the family closer, the subject matter lighter, and it is full of descriptions of food and cookery instead of blood and surgery. It is, however, similar in that it is a study on healing rifts and estrangements within the family.
It also features conflicts of culture, which is a theme in ‘Cutting For Stone’ and all of the books on this list.
Majmudar fills this book with sensory description and delicate, wonderful turns of phrase to linger over and savour. A wonderful book that I would recommend to anyone.
Image Source: Monique Truong
Family reunion under less-than-ideal circumstances, tick. Secrets and lies, tick. Loneliness and displacement, tick.
There are plenty of differences between ‘Cutting For Stone’ and ‘Bitter In the Mouth’. The writing style, the family dynamic, and the unusual, quirky voice of Linda, the narrator of the latter, however, the running themes of this list are all present in this interesting second novel by Monique Truong.
Image Source: Oneworld Publications
If you read the books on this list and still can’t get enough family drama, you might enjoy ‘Purple Hibiscus’ and ‘White Teeth’.
Image Source: TTBYL
When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, a brother and sister are sent away by their strict and religiously fanatical father, to live with their Aunt. Their new home is a world away from the one they have left, and they begin to discover laughter and love.
This book is a step away from ‘Cutting For Stone’, it is more of a ‘coming of age’ story than a dark tale of estrangements and death. The similarity is that it still centres on the push and pull of family relationships.
Image Source: Female First
So different in so many ways. If this book had a similarity rating it might be as low as 30%. It has a very modern, quirky feel to it, the narrator feels feminine and kooky, unlike the very serious, masculine feel of ‘Cutting For Stone’.
That being said, the central story is all about Elly and Joe, sister and brother. They are attached at the hip, close enough to read each other’s minds, much like Marion and Shiva in ‘Cutting For Stone’. Then one day, when they are all grown up and adult, something happens which threatens to destroy their relationship.
The true pleasure (and sometimes heartbreak) of reading books about complicated and divided families is that they become your family, for a time.
Some of the more plot driven books, crime, horror, fantasy, don’t focus as much on the character development, but in a book about relationships, character is everything. The author zooms right in on their every expression and idiosyncrasy. You are given a front row seat to their emotions, hopes and dreams.
Reading the books on this list is an altogether personal experience, and can sometimes leave you bereft when you turn that final page!
Have you adopted a literary family recently?
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