The Tiger's Wife (Paperback)
Random House Trade Paperbacks, 9780385343848, 368pp.
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
March 2011 Indie Next List
— Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI
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Summer 2012 Reading Group
— Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI
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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
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.
Look for special features inside. Join the Circle for author chats and more.
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.
Praise For The Tiger's Wife: A Novel…
“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
“A beguiling blend of realism, myth and legend, this novel possesses a presence and force, essential ingredients for a novel that is very much rooted in reality yet transcends time.”—Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune Editor’s Choice
“Sentence by sentence, no fictional debut in 2011 was more arresting than this novel.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- Natalia says that the key to her grandfather’s life and death "lies between two stories: the story of the tiger's wife, and the story of the deathless man". What power do the stories we tell about ourselves have to shape our identity and help us understand our lives?
- Which of the different ways the characters go about making peace with the dead felt familiar from your own life? Which took you by surprise?
- Natalia believes that her grandfather’s memories of the village apothecary “must have been imperishable.” What lesson do you think he might have learned from what happened to the apothecary?
- What significance does the tiger have to the different characters in the novel: Natalia, her grandfather, the tiger’s wife, the villagers? Why do you think Natalia’s grandfather’s reaction to the tiger’s appearance in the village was so different than the rest of the villagers?
- "The story of this war—dates, names, who started it, why—that belongs to everyone," Natalia’s grandfather tells her. But "those moments you keep to yourself" are more important. By eliding place names and specific events of recent Balkan history, what do you think the author is doing?
- When the deathless man and the grandfather share a last meal before the bombing of Sarobor, the grandfather urges the deathless man to tell the waiter his fate so he can go home and be with his family. Is Gavran Gailé right to decide to stop telling people that they are going to die? Would you rather know your death was coming or go “in suddenness”?
- Did knowing more about Luka’s past make him more sympathetic? Why do you think the author might have chosen to give the backstories of Luka, Dariša the Bear, and the apothecary?
- The copy of The Jungle Book Natalia’sgrandfather always carries around in his coat pocket is not among the possessions she collects after his death. What do you think happens to it?
- The novel moves back and forth between myth and modern-day “real life”. What did you think of the juxtaposition of folklore and contemporary realism?
- Of all the themes of this novel (war, storytelling, family, death, myth, etc.) which one resonated the most for you?