Scott's Reviews > The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
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's review
Jun 01, 2012

liked it
Read in June, 2012

This is kind of my "fault", more than Tea Obreht's, my three-star/just ok rating of her widely acclaimed debut novel, The Tiger's Wife. Set in the strife-ridden Balkans and, through flashbacks, taking us back over at least a hundred years, this is the story of a young Croatian doctor, Natalia Stefanovi, on a humanitarian mission to the other (read: wrong) side of the Serbian border, who learns that her beloved, ancient grandfather has been found dead in a tiny town (also in Serbia) in which he had no known business. Sounds like fertile ground for a gripping tale, especially given my pretty-much complete ignorance of that part of the world, and Obreht is a remarkably good writer, the book filled with meaty sentences and beautiful imagery. BUT, at least half the novel is taken by the retelling of two "magical myths" or whatever from her grandfather's youth: the Tale of the Tiger's Wife (which literally--or not literally? I couldn't really tell--involves a deaf-mute who consorts with an actual stripey beast; and the Tale of the Deathless Man, in which the nephew of Death argues with the grandfather for whole chapters on whether he's real or not. Or something. I really don't ever enjoy stuff like this--both the mythical storylines, nor the endless bickering (which is why I had to quit Breaking Bad--and these vast swaths of Tiger's Wife were no exception. So that's that.

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