The Tiger's Wife
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.
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
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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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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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?
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