NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “Spectacular . . . [Téa Obreht] spins a tale of such marvel and magic in a literary voice so enchanting that the mesmerized reader wants her never to stop.”—Entertainment Weekly
Look for Téa Obreht’s second novel, Inland, now available.
NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times • Entertainment Weekly • The Christian Science Monitor • The Kansas City Star • Library Journal
Weaving a brilliant latticework of family legend, loss, and love, Téa Obreht, the youngest of The New Yorker’s twenty best American fiction writers under forty, has spun a timeless novel that will establish her as one of the most vibrant, original authors of her generation.
In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Wall Street Journal • O: The Oprah Magazine • The Economist • Vogue • Slate • Chicago Tribune • The Seattle Times • Dayton Daily News • Publishers Weekly • Alan Cheuse, NPR’s All Things Considered
“Stunning . . . a richly textured and searing novel.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“[Obreht] has a talent for subtle plotting that eludes most writers twice her age, and her descriptive powers suggest a kind of channeled genius. . . . No novel [this year] has been more satisfying.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Filled with astonishing immediacy and presence, fleshed out with detail that seems firsthand, The Tiger’s Wife is all the more remarkable for being the product not of observation but of imagination.”—The New York Times Book Review
“That The Tiger’s Wife never slips entirely into magical realism is part of its magic. . . . Its graceful commingling of contemporary realism and village legend seems even more absorbing.”—The Washington Post
The sometimes crushing power of myth, story, and memory is explored in the brilliant debut of Obreht, the youngest of the New Yorker's 20-under-40. Natalia Stefanovi, a doctor living (and, in between suspensions, practicing) in an unnamed country that's a ringer for Obreht's native Croatia, crosses the border in search of answers about the death of her beloved grandfather, who raised her on tales from the village he grew up in, and where, following German bombardment in 1941, a tiger escaped from the zoo in a nearby city and befriended a mysterious deaf-mute woman. The evolving story of the tiger's wife, as the deaf-mute becomes known, forms one of three strands that sustain the novel, the other two being Natalia's efforts to care for orphans and a wayward family who, to lift a curse, are searching for the bones of a long-dead relative; and several of her grandfather's stories about Gavran Gail , the deathless man, whose appearances coincide with catastrophe and who may hold the key to all the stories that ensnare Natalia. Obreht is an expert at depicting history through aftermath, people through the love they inspire, and place through the stories that endure; the reflected world she creates is both immediately recognizable and a legend in its own right. Obreht is talented far beyond her years, and her unsentimental faith in language, dream, and memory is a pleasure.
Customer ReviewsSee All
This was more of a page-turner than I expected. There was the occasional odd word choice, and the variable omniscience of the narrator was sometimes unsettling, but one the whole, this is quite an accomplishment--carefully plotted and expertly drawn.
Not my Cup of Coffee!
This was a tough read. Bits of this novel were so promising at first and I was hoping for a resolution that tied all of the unlinked elements together. It never came. This book at times felt like genius in the layering of superstitions, fables, and the interweaving of dark story lines but just as it became riveting, the author would suddenly take a right turn and embellish in GREAT DETAIL a character who had little to do with the plot and expound for pages on end. (Why do I hear the line from Amadeus: “Too many notes?”) Tea’s paragraphs were long, extremely chewy, and hard to get through. I wish I could say I found this story enlightening and encouraging but it was more confounding than anything. I know I scratched my head at the conclusion and thought, “Well, there are three days of reading I’ll never get back.” Apparently, I don’t appreciate the concepts or implied analogies but least I finished it. This was my least favorite book of the summer and I’ve read a dozen since June.
Couldn’t get into it
I just couldn’t get into the story. It was odd and it was slow and it never really got to a point where it ramped up and made sense to some extent. May be me and my tastes but I didn’t care for it and stopped reading about 40% of the way through.