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The Tiger's Wife

A Novel
Obreht, Téa (Book - 2011 )
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Tiger's Wife


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NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST * NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER 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 SELECTED ONE OF THE TOP 10 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 years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself. But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather's recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel. Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather's final state of mind, she turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. On their weeklytrips to the zoo he would read to her from a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, which he carried with him everywhere; later, he told her stories of his own encounters over many years with "the deathless man," a vagabond who claimed to be immortal and appeared never to age. But the most extraordinary story of all is the one her grandfather never told her, the one Natalia must discover for herself. One winter during the Second World War, his childhood village was snowbound, cut off even from the encroaching German invaders but haunted by another, fierce presence: a tiger who comes ever closer under cover of darkness. "These stories," Natalia comes to understand, "run like secret rivers through all the other stories" of her grandfather's life. And it is ultimately within these rich, luminous narratives that she will find the answer she is looking for.
Authors: Obreht, Téa
Title: The tiger's wife
a novel
Publisher: New York :, Random House,, c2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
Characteristics: 337 p. ;,22 cm.
ISBN: 0385343833
9780385343831
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Comment by: Algonquin_Lisa Report This Apr 12, 2011

Entrancing novel that's part supernatural/fable and part coming-of-age. Also has the theme of the younger generation replacing the older, following the advice of older and wiser relatives in order to learn how to get through life. Very highly recommended. An Orange Prize longlisted novel - 2011.

Comment by: DesPlainesReaders Report This May 07, 2011

This finely-crafted mix of history and legend, reality and allegory deserves all of the prepublication hype it received. With extraordinary skill and imagination, Obreht slowly illuminates the grandfather's life through the re-telling of "the deathless man" and "the tiger's wife," two of his own fantastic tales. Subtly, each bit of myth and memory builds on the next to reveal the character of both the man and the land from which he comes. This novel is not a light read, but neither is it inaccessible. Its richness and complexity awes and we are left with the understanding that who we believe our loved ones to be is powerfully influenced by the stories they tell. And in turn, the stories lived out by everyday people define their homeland more truly than any boundary drawn on a map. Des Plaines Readers' Services/Ms_Fitz

Comment by: rlbecker Report This Jun 27, 2011

This is a remarkably well-written book. It grows more mysterious as you read through it. That being said, it was over my head at some places. It takes place in a Balkan country just recovering from war. An older doctor has just died and his grand-daughter tells his story as well as her own. It is filled with folklore and superstition to such a degree that you have to try to understand what could be real in the story. A deathless man, a woman who interacts with a tiger, a man who turns into a bear and nighttime digging up of graves are all part of the story. I enjoyed it but was a little confused. It would be a great book discussion story.


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Report This Feb 13, 2014
  • PRMorris rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

This was one of the Blind Date with a Book books. I thought the Grandfather's stories were more interesting than the modern day stories and the ending was weak. I have a feeling that I don't know enough about Balkan history or mythology to enjoy this book fully.

Report This Jan 11, 2014
  • JackieFC13 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

My friend Caroline picked this book to kick off our book club this year. I have always wanted to read it, saw it in all the major book stores, on all the big lists of the books you must read and its just a neat cover. It took me a little while to get into the book as I really didn't understand what it was about but what hooked me was her writing. Her imagery and writing style is just beautiful. I will definitely be reading another one of her books based just on that. My favorite parts of the book were the stories of The Deathless Man. Throughout the book you learn about her grandfather, his childhood, his life and his experiences through the stories that he told her as she was growing up. It was very touching to learn how much she loved her grandfather and what an impact he had on her life. What bothered me most about this book was that the tiger had no point, there was no reason for the tiger or the tiger's wife other than they had never seen a tiger before in her grandfather's village. This was a dark book and at some points violent. It was extremely interesting to read, I enjoyed it and will recommend it to others.

Report This Oct 08, 2013
  • jshaddy rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

I really enjoyed being in the middle of this story, all the richness from the different time points and reading the grandfather's tales, I also liked the author's writing style and how things unfolded, but for me there wasn't the depth of meaning that other people seemed to find in this book.

Report This Aug 07, 2013
  • artemishi rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is one of those rare modern books that reads like classic literature. The characters are diverse, varied, and realistic, and the story moves through time with a fluidity that sometimes outpaced my comprehension. I can see why this won awards. The main character's journey is double-sided: she's putting together the story of her grandfather, what he's told her and what she finds out after traveling to his hometown; she's also finding a piece of magic in herself. And along the way, each character contributes something to your understanding of the world. I loved that Tea Obreht made even the most hateful characters redeemable in some small way. The narrator, and we readers, begin the book skeptical of the inherent magic of folklore that drives the story, but by the end it's become part of the tapestry of life. This is the kind of book that makes me want to be a part of it. I recommend this book for fans of magical realism (like Sarah Addison Allen books), fans of mirrored physical and internal journeys, fans of female protagonists, and anyone curious about the lives of villagers in the Balkans.

Report This Jun 09, 2013
  • WVMLBookClubTitles rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Remembering childhood stories her grandfather once told her, young physician Natalia becomes convinced that her grandfather spent his last days searching for "the deathless man," a vagabond who claimed to be immortal. As Natalia struggles to understand why her grandfather, a deeply rational man, would go on such a farfetched journey, she stumbles across a clue that leads her to the extraordinary story of the tiger's wife. Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Report This Mar 18, 2013
  • JCLJenniferM rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I really loved this book, its complexities and layers, the writing, the setting, the characters. It is one of those books that just stays with you after you have finished it.

I waited a really long time to get this book so I thought it would be really good. It was terrible . Had no redeeming qualities. Ikept reading to the end because I thought there must be some fabulous ending but there wasn't.

Report This Sep 26, 2012
  • mogie rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

This book didn't engage me until mid way through. I found myself skimming it to get it over with. I agree with sddepaul below. It didn't come together.

Report This Sep 22, 2012
  • ontherideau rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

reminiscent of Life of Pi

Report This Aug 28, 2012
  • sddepaul rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

I wanted to stop reading around page 100, but read the reviews and made it through this book which had its moments...but it never really came together for me.

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Report This May 07, 2011
  • DesPlainesReaders rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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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Report This Nov 05, 2011
  • ndp21f rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

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?

Report This May 07, 2011
  • DesPlainesReaders rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

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

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