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The Covenant of Water: An Oprah’s Book Club Selection & One of Barack Obama's Best Books of 2023 by Abraham Verghese

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The Covenant of Water: An Oprah’s Book Club Selection & One of Barack Obama's Best Books of 2023 by Abraham Verghese Ratings: 0 - 0 votes
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From the New York Times-bestselling author of Cutting for Stone comes a stunning and magisterial new epic of love, faith and medicine, set in Kerala, South India.

'One of the best books I've read in my entire life. It's epic. It's transportive . . . It was unputdownable!' Oprah Winfrey, OprahDaily.com

Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water follows a family in southern India that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning - and in Kerala, water is everywhere.

At the turn of the century a twelve-year-old girl, grieving the death of her father, is sent by boat to her wedding, where she will meet her forty-year-old husband for the first time. From this poignant beginning, the young girl and future matriarch - known as Big Ammachi - will witness unthinkable changes at home and at large over the span of her extraordinary life, full of the joys and trials of love and the struggles of hardship.

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. Imbued with humour, deep emotion and the essence of life, it is one of the most masterful literary novels published in recent years.


One of the best books I've read in my entire life. It's epic. It's transportive . . . It was unputdownable! -- Oprah Winfrey, OprahDaily.com

Splendid, enthralling...this is why literature, in all its comforting and challenging forms, matters -- Maaza Mengiste ― Guardian

Majestic...life-affirming, compassionate, and gripping from start to finish ― Mail on Sunday

Grand, spectacular, sweeping and utterly absorbing ― New York Times Book Review

An important book for its efforts in documenting times and places most readers would be too young to have witnessed. It is also a tribute to the scientific progress that has made human lives healthier, and the sacrifices made by previous generations. ― Observer

Deliciously inventive.... Over the course of three generations, two seemingly disparate, deeply connected narratives unfold in an ode to India, family and medical marvels ― TIME magazine

An immense, immersive work, brimming with interconnected storylines that meander and converge like great river tributaries . . . The novel encompasses intense passion and tragedy, as well as a medical mystery . . . An essential, even healing feat of imagination, a whole world to get lost in ― Los Angeles Times

An epic melodrama of medicine ― Wall Street Journal

Verghese's novel traces a family's evolution from 1900 through the 1970s, with intimacy swept up into widescreen pageantry in the manner of "Dr. Zhivago." This grandly ambitious, impassioned work is a magnificent feat. ― Washington Post

Much will be written about Abraham Verghese's multigenerational South Indian novel in the coming months and years...Ever the skillful surgeon, Verghese threads meaningful connections between macrocosmic and microcosmic details so elegantly that they are often barely noticeable at first ― NPR.org

Fourteen years in the making, Abraham Verghese's The Covenant of Water was worth the wait . . . A massive achievement. Rarely can such an intricate story, following a dozen major characters over more than 70 years, be described as flying by, but this one does ― St Louis Post-Dispatch

What a joy...to experience the exquisite, uniquely literary delight of all the pieces falling into place in a way one really did not see coming...By God, he's done it again. ― Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Verghese - who gifts the matriarch his mother's name and even some of her stories - illuminates colonial history, challenges castes and classism, and exposes injustices, all while spectacularly spinning what will undoubtedly be one of the most lauded, awarded, best-selling novels of the year. ― Booklist (starred review)

Verghese outdoes himself with this grand and stunning tribute to 20th-century India ― Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A literary landmark, a monumental treatment of family and country, as sprawling in scope as Edna Ferber's Giant . . . Writing with compassion and insight, Verghese creates distinct characters in Dickensian profusion, and his language is striking... Throughout, there are joy, courage and devotion, as well as tragedy ― Library Journal (starred review)

A lush, literary masterpiece - written with a surgeon's skill and an artist's eye - that delivers a rich, emotional return on the reader's investment ― BookBrowse

Intensely moving...The story is told so exquisitely and the characters, whose lives cross and connect as the water crosses and connects the land, are so rich and vibrant, I feel as though I have walked all those years alongside them...It was an absolute privilege to read this novel. -- Joanna Cannon

From the very first page of Abraham Verghese's The Covenant of Water, I was overtaken with joy. Truly, I caught my breath, absorbing such beauty. What a sure faith this novel is - what an agreement with language. What a glorious story of land and family. What a brilliant path written across generations. -- Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, author of THE LOVE SONGS OF W.E.B. DU BOIS

The Covenant of Water is a brilliant novel, one I feel lucky to experience. It is enthralling; its conjured worlds vigorous and astonishing; its characters so real they call me back to their lives. I wanted to read this book for whole days and nights, and do little else. -- Megha Majumdar, author of A BURNING

This majestic, sweeping story of family secrets - their curse, their legacy, and their cure - is intimate and profound. Abraham Verghese takes us on a journey across nearly a century and more than one continent, all the while dazzling with his rich, elegant prose. Verghese is a literary legend at the height of his extraordinary powers. -- Dani Shapiro, author of SIGNAL FIRES

A novel of utter beauty, The Covenant of Water is worthy of all praise in its depiction of medical ingenuity and family love; it is epic and eye-opening, the sort of story that only a singular mind like Abraham Verghese's could have woven -- Imbolo Mbue, author of HOW BEAUTIFUL WE WERE

Reading The Covenant of Water I felt as if I'd been plunged into an atmosphere thicker than air, or as if I was swimming in a sea of stories, each more intense and unforgettable than the last -- Sandra Cisneros, author of WOMAN WITHOUT SHAME

Product details

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Atlantic Books (1 January 2023); Grove Press

Language ‏ : ‎ English

Paperback ‏ : ‎ 736 pages

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1804710431

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1804710432

Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 180 g

Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 20.3 x 13.3 x 1.45 cm


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