Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Monday, April 1, 2024

The Covenent of Water - A Novel by Abraham Verghese- 2023 - 720 Pages - An Oprah Book Club Selection

The Covenent of Water - A Novel by Abraham Verghese- 2023 - 720 Pages - An Oprah Book Club Selection

When I watched Oprah Winfrey's six minute presentation on her 101th book club selection I at once added it to my read very soon list.

Now I must thank Oprah for her brilliant remarks and Doctor Abraham Verghese for the ten years it took to write one of the very greatest novels I have ever read in the sixty plus years of my reading life.

The Covenent of Water centers on a family grappling with a strange curse:  at least one member in each generation seems destined to die by drowning.  This is particularly poignant considering their life unfolds in Kerala, a land defined by its backwaters, rivers, and Arabian Sea coast.

The narrative starts with a young girl, Mariamma, who is sent by boat for an arranged marriage to a much older widower.  Over time, Mariamma transforms into the family matriarch, overseeing a vast estate and earning the title "Big Ammachi."   The story then unfolds through the lives of her descendants, including a celebrated writer son and future generations who become physicians.

"The Covenant of Water is the long-awaited new novel by Abraham Verghese, the author of Cutting for Stone. Published in 2009, Cutting for Stone became a literary phenomenon, selling over 1.5 million copies in the United States alone and remaining on the New York Times bestseller list for over two years.

Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water is set in Kerala, on South India’s Malabar Coast, and follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning—and in Kerala, water is everywhere. The family is part of a Christian community that traces itself to the time of the apostles, but times are shifting, and the matriarch of this family, known as Big Ammachi—literally “Big Mother”—will witness unthinkable changes at home and at large over the span of her extraordinary life. All of Verghese’s great gifts are on display in this new work: there are astonishing scenes of medical ingenuity, fantastic moments of humor, a surprising and deeply moving story, and characters imbued with the essence of life.

A shimmering evocation of a lost India and of the passage of time itself, The Covenant of Water is a hymn to progress in medicine and to human understanding, and a humbling testament to the hardships undergone by past generations for the sake of those alive today. It is one of the most masterful literary novels published in recent" From Grove Press

Abraham Verghese, MD, MACP, is Professor and Linda R. Meier and Joan F. Lane Provostial Professor, and Vice Chair for the Theory and Practice of Medicine at the School of Medicine at Stanford University. He is also a best-selling author and a physician with a reputation for his focus on healing in an era where technology often overwhelms the human side of medicine. He received the Heinz Award in 2014 and was awarded the National Humanities Medal, presented by President Barack Obama, in 2015. 

Further biographical data is available on the Author’s website


Lisbeth said...

I loved his Cutting for Stone and am planning to read this one as well.

Marianne said...

This has been on my wishlist for ages, I will have to get it soon. Thanks.

Buried In Print said...

Wow, that is quite a recommendation! I'll definitely add it to my TBR too, then.
For years, now, I have had this author confused with another that I do not wish to read, and I have obviously missed out, via this misunderstanding/misremembering of mine!
Oprah chooses really good books much of the time though, so I do trust her suggestions too.

Marianne said...

@Buried in Print. Might I ask which author you confused him with? Sorry if that's too nosey.