The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger's Wife

A Novel

eBook - 2011
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  • "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, coming August 13, 2019.
    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.
  • 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

  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group


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    May 26, 2020

    I found this book a little tedious. The plot isn't strong enough to tie the stories in each chapter together, nor do the stories themselves provide any deeper insights into life. The writing is competent, but the effect is ho-hum.

    JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Dec 16, 2019

    Magic realism and a historical tale in a unique setting. A couple of my favorite things. I understand why this is showing up on readalike lists for Disappearing Ms. Obreht has a new novel out this year: Inland.

    Nov 03, 2019


    Jul 03, 2019

    Each chapter is beautifully written but the connection between the chapters is disorganized. It never provides true resolution re: her grandfather, the deathless man and her own story as a doctor. Not sure I would recommend this. Often time, confusing secondary to lack of fluency from story to story.

    Jul 01, 2019

    I can’t rate this as I never understood anything about it.

    Feb 12, 2019

    Ugh, two stars, but only because some of the folk stories were interesting. The purpose for this girls journey is never resolved, but the author wraps it up like she has covered everything and you should feel transformed by this book. Just no. I think this book has so much hype because it appears really high brow, but apparently I'm not alone in being frustrated here. And no, I dont want to have to read interviews with the author and discussions in order to understand this book.

    Jun 29, 2017

    This was a fascinating, disturbing, suspenseful, thought-provoking novel. The author writes of the wars in the Balkans and their after- effects in the in a very realistic and believable way, without ever giving any real names of towns or "sides," but still gives enough local and historical detail that it made me want to learn more about that region. The central relationship between the grandfather and granddaughter is well written and touching. The mysteries surrounding her grandfather's death and youth were fascinating. I would have liked this book more if there weren't so many unanswered questions at the end, and if there was less violence towards the end of the novel. I also didn't like that the author seems to want to deliberately leave us hanging at the end... what part of the stories the grandfather told were real and what wasn't? I like magic realism, and I think it could have worked in this story, but instead it was divided almost completely between concrete present day reality and the magical stories of her grandfather's youth and early career. At the same time there are enough "maybe it is real" parts towards the end that it gets kind of annoying: either let us know what is real and what isn't, or stop teasing us with the "what ifs." *Spoiler alert* The last part about the tiger living in the woods, mourning his "wife"... that was sort of weird, it seems impossible that a tiger could live that long. I generally like backstories, but in the case of the butcher and the hunter, rather than making them more sympathetic characters, their backstories made it even more disturbing that two men who were sensitive and thoughtful in their youth could be capable of so much violence. The last third or so of the book seemed really violent, especially the treatment of the deaf-mute girl, who is never even given a name! I would have liked to learn more about her character and motivations, but we aren't given much beyond the sympathy and understanding between her and the tiger. Some of the loose ends that I wanted answered were: Did the apothecary deliberately poison the tiger's wife with the drink he sent with her grandfather, and if so, why? Why didn't the townsman know or care where the tiger's wife was buried? Was the person at the crossroads that Natalie encounters the "deathless man" or just someone keeping old beliefs alive? Why couldn't the butcher have said "This isn't the woman I asked to marry, you tricked me" and get on with his life? What really is the point of the two stories? Does the deathless man represent the grandfather's changing attitude toward death as he ages? What is the point of the tiger's wife story? I know the ambiguity makes the story more relate-able to real life in a way, but for my leisure reading I don't want this amount of uncertainty.

    multcolib_susannel Mar 07, 2017

    When her grandfather disappears, Natalia travels to a strange country to find him, using the stories he used to tell her as a map.

    Jan 28, 2017

    A very different kind of story, with an intertwining of myth and present-day stories. The setting is in the Balkans and the history and culture is a felt experience in the stories of this novel. There are classical themes brought to vivid life in the characters and places of the story. A pleasure to read.

    Jun 08, 2016

    A beautifully told story - the movement from one storyline to the next was sometimes confusing, but the imagery was vivid and striking.

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    Nov 05, 2011

    It took him a long time to ask, “Been around children much?” He wasn’t looking at me, so he didn’t see me shrug. After a while, I shrugged again, tapped my book with a pencil. Eventually, I asked: “Why?” He sat up, pushed his chair away from the table and rubbed his knees. “When men die, they die in fear,” he said. “They take everything they need from you, and as a doctor it is your job to give it, to comfort them, to hold their hand. But children die how they have been living—in hope. They don’t know what’s happening, so they expect nothing, they don’t ask you to hold their hand—but you end up needing them to hold yours. With children, you’re on your own. Do you understand?

    DesPlainesReaders May 07, 2011

    “These stories run like secret rivers through all the other stories”


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    DesPlainesReaders May 07, 2011

    Amid the war-scarred landscape of a fictionalized Balkan country, a young doctor, Natalia, faces superstition and secrecy on a humanitarian trip to an orphanage across the border. At the same time, she searches for the truth of her grandfather's mysterious final days and his solitary death in a small country village. In Eastern Orthodox tradition, we learn, “the forty days of the soul begin on the morning after death.” During that time, it will “make its way to the places of its past.” Natalia must return home with her grandfather's personal effects before those forty days pass so that his soul can find its way. Des Plaines Readers' Services/Ms_Fitz

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