New Novel from author Dr. Abraham Verghese, distinguished member of the Vellore CMC Foundation

We recently heard from our Educational Grant Chair, Betsy Steele who wrote,

I’m sure you received this email. I just finished the book last week and I have to say that it is a fantastic read. When CMC and Ida Scudder were mentioned I got chills. So many of the wonderful places in Southern India that we have visited are there in the book.

Betsy is referring to a CMC email (below) that went out promoting The Covenant of Water, written by a distinguished member of the CMC Foundation Board.

We are proud to offer our members an opportunity to delve into a riveting account of 3 generations of rural Indian life.

Dear Members of the CMC Vellore Global Network,

It is my privilege to share with you some very exciting news about Professor of Medicine and Vice Chair of Education at Stanford University Medical School, Dr. Abraham Verghese, who also happens to be a distinguished member of the Vellore CMC Foundation corporation!


Dr. Verghese recently introduced a new novel entitled The Covenant of Water. In the words of New York Times journalist, Andrew Solomon, this novel is “grand, spectacular, sweeping and utterly absorbing.” Joan Frank of the Washington Post commented that, “Covenant reads like a lavish smorgasbord of genealogy, medicine, and love affairs, tracing a family’s evolution from 1900 through the 1970s, in pointillist detail.” Even more impressively, Oprah Winfrey pronounced, “This is one of the top five books I’ve read in my lifetime…It’s epic. It’s transportive.”


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.


The novel was inspired by Dr. Verghese’s late mother, Mariam Verghese, who created an illustration for her 5-year-old granddaughter, who wanted to know what life was like when her grandmother was growing up.


In a recent email from Dr. Verghese, he made mention of the support provided by several CMC graduates, particularly related to his research of leprosy, Dr. Paul Brand, as well as several other important subjects. Those individuals were Drs. Samson Jesudas, Mary Ganguli, and Ajit Varki. According to Dr. Verghese, the outcome of this CMC-assisted research was his ability to feature CMC “in a vivid way” in one of the book’s chapters.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 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.


Should you wish to purchase The Covenant of Water, you can do so on Amazon by clicking here.

John A. Riehl
President and CEO
Vellore Christian Medical College Foundation

© Scudder Association Foundation, All rights reserved


1 Comment

  1. Susan Swanson

    Super read. I loved it!


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