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The Tiger's Wife: A Novel [Paperback]

Téa Obreht 
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 1 2011


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

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.

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“Stunning . . . a richly textured and searing novel.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“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. [Grade:] A”—Entertainment Weekly

“[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
“So rich with themes of love, legends and mortality that every novel that comes after it this year is in peril of falling short in comparison with its uncanny beauty.”—Time

“Mesmerizing . . . [Tea] Obreht’s striking ability to explain the world through stories is matched by her patience with the parts of life—and death—that endlessly confound us.”—The Boston Globe

“Makes for a thrilling beginning to what will certainly be a great literary career.”—Elle

“A compelling, persuasive writer, Obreht brings improbable elements to life on the page. Better, she makes them snap together with such magical skill that even the skeptical reader believes.”—Chicago Sun-Times

“In Obreht’s expert hands, the novel’s mythology, while rooted in a foreign world, comes to be somehow familiar, like the dark fairy tales of our own youth, the kind that spooked us into reading them again and again.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“Obreht writes with an angel’s pen . . . creating a skein of descriptive passages flush with apt details and ringing with lyrical diction about city life, country life, private dreams and public difficulties.”—NPR’s “All Things Considered”

“Gorgeous . . . one of the most extraordinary debut novels in recent memory.”—Vogue

“Every word, every scene, every thought is blazingly alive in this many-faceted, spellbinding, and rending novel of death, succor, and remembrance.”—Booklist (starred review)

“A spectacular accomplishment . . . written in a wry, classical, luxuriant style reminiscent of Tolstoy.”—Marie Claire

About the Author

Téa Obreht was born in Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia in 1985 and has lived in the United States since the age of twelve. Her writing has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, and The Guardian, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She has been named by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best American fiction writers under forty and included in the National Book Foundation’s list of 5 Under 35. Téa Obreht lives in New York.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars too many stories Aug. 2 2011
I chose this book after having read some stellar reviews; I was expecting an intriguing tale of characters, politics and mythology. This is in fact what I experienced, but in too great detail, i.e. I felt that there were too many characters introduced, and each had an extensive background; your questions to their demise were never quite explained, and left you wondering. I did enjoy the tiger motif and the "deathless man" vinnettes. Altogether, a book that spellbinds, but only if you've got the patience to fall into it.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, creative, deeply human May 19 2011
Enter into a world of people, and one tiger, whose lives are disrupted by the kind of war that tears apart the fabric of social relations. The details of this story grip the heart while leading you into places that, as a privileged North American, I have not had to endure. Enter a time and a place where Muslims and Eastern Europeans had worked out a 'modus vivendi' with rich results. Then observe the senselessness of war tearing it all apart. The brilliance of this writing is that you do not fall into depression while reading of human folly, superstition and madness. Reminded me of the highly imaginative story telling in Yan Martel's The Life of Pi, also with a Tiger deeply integrated into the story. I learned a good deal about life in a tiny remote village in former Yogoslavia, and about the strange loves and miseries of the human heart. I went on to read about present day Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, and feel hope that Muslims have a chance of being integrated more comfortably into the lives of non-Muslims in the Western world.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars couldn't read it Dec 8 2011
By no_name
This is one of the few books I couldn't finish. Mediocre writing at least. Symbolism and mystery? Not my taste.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book April 11 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What an unusual book. I love the interconnected stories and fables. The writing is wonderful, descriptions were memorable. This book is great for discussion in literature class or book clubs. I will treasure this book and recommend it to anyone who wants to read a great book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Well told Feb. 21 2014
The one thing I like about The Tiger's Wife is that it is a beautifully written book. In fact, it is mesmerizing. I am awed by the creative mind of the author. Besides, it is a first book. It provides a fascinating insight into the Balkans and the myths or superstitions that abound there. The author conveys the deep message behind the story, which explains not only the resilience of the area but also the ravages that it has been subjected to throughout its turbulent history. Tea moved from the present to the past in an effortless manner, crafting characters that are both imposing and colorful.

The way the real and the mythical are blended together in this story written by its promising author reminds me of Disciples of Fortune, Gone Girl. The plot in this story is brilliant and the setting carries the day. The Balkans is a puzzling part of Europe. The writing itself is excellent. This is a book to read again.
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By John Kwok TOP 500 REVIEWER
Acclaimed for her short fiction by The New Yorker as a member of its twenty best American fiction writers under the age of forty list, Tea Obreht inserts magical realism into a compelling, often mesmerizing, tale spanning generations and decades, covering the centuries-old war-torn landscape of the Balkans in her compelling debut novel, "The Tiger's Wife", among the most notable debut novels published in recent years. This is a superb novel demonstrating her excellent gifts for writing descriptive prose rich in imagery both real and fantastical, coupled with memorable storytelling that may be the best recent novel describing the Balkans' violent 20th Century history of ethnic cleansing; first during World War II, and then, decades later, the genocidal conflicts marking the collapse of Yugoslavia. When a young doctor, Natalia, arrives with her lifelong friend Zora at an orphanage overlooking the sea, she begins feeling emotionally pulled by secrets haunting her family history and of the landscape itself. Disturbed by recentnews of her grandfather's death, she wonders why despite his grave illness he travels to a remote town. A celebrated physician, she remembers childhood visits to her hometown zoo with him, spellbound by tales she has read in his copy of Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book". She recalls tales of his meetings with a "deathless man", with someone who doesn't age, possessed with eternal youth. And yet, most miraculous of all, she recounts vintage World War II tales about an escaped zoo tiger hiding within a forest near a remote village, perceived by its inhabitants as an animal possessed with magical qualities bordering on demonic sorcery. Read more ›
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