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The Tiger's Wife

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3.40  ·  Rating details ·  87,492 ratings  ·  10,639 reviews
The sometimes crushing power of myth, story, and memory is explored in the brilliant debut of Obreht, the youngest of the New Yorker's 20-under-40. Natalia Stefanovi, a doctor living (and, in between suspensions, practicing) in an unnamed country that's a ringer for Obreht's native Croatia, crosses the border in search of answers about the death of her beloved grandfather, ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 3rd 2011 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
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Janet Carroll I believe that the book revolves around the two stories that linger here and there throughout the book: the deathless man who argues that sudden death…moreI believe that the book revolves around the two stories that linger here and there throughout the book: the deathless man who argues that sudden death is preferable to a slow dying which is what Natalia's grandfather experiences and the story of the tiger's wife which is about fear and myth. I have to agree with you, though. At first, my expectations were very high, but by the end I trudged (if one can trudge reading) until the end.(less)
Rachel Irvine
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Average rating 3.40  · 
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Fergie
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm probably one of the few people who didn't "get" this book. While I give credit to Tea Obreht for her ingenuity and creativity with the story, I felt at times frustrated by the pace of the the book and the way it wound through the fantastical tales which I found more distracting than entertaining or enlightening in its detour from the main story.
I kept wanting to care about the main character, Natalia, and the relationship she shared with her grandfather but felt Obreht kept me hanging and d
...more
Petra-X
Mar 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, reviewed
5 stars for hype
4 stars for beautiful writing
3 stars for interesting folk stories
2 stars for plot
1 star for meaning

5 stars. Hype. I'm in the book trade - I have a book shop. I know that all these magazines from the distributors and the newsletters from the book sites that purport to introduce us in an unbiased way to new releases are ttotally fake. Every single one of those books is paid-for advertising. And a lot of money was spent on hyping this book up.

4 stars. Beautiful writing. Luminous eve
...more
TheGirlBytheSeaofCortez
Civil war in the Balkans has left that region bereft and in need. It is in this fascinating region that Téa Obreht sets her elegantly written debut novel, The Tiger’s Wife.

While the protagonist of The Tiger’s Wife is Natalia Stefanovic, a young doctor who has returned to her homeland to help the villagers, the central mystery of the book revolves around Natalia’s beloved grandfather as Natalia seeks to reconstruct his final days and his death in a village named Zdrevkov, far from his home.

Althou
...more
Karen
While praising Obreht for writing with great lyrical force, some have criticized her for writing a disjointed novel. I disagree. Her novel's central question asks, "How do people respond to death?"

The setting is the Balkans, an area with complex histories and cultures -- all wrestling with death in one form or another: death from disease, from poverty and from violence both small within the walls of a family's home or large-scale as with air raid bombing. Death stalks the people of the Balkans
...more
Peter
Duality
The Tiger’s Wife is an ambitious book of depth and meaning, which draws links between troubled aftermath in a war-torn European region, and the backdrop of superstition and myths. There is a theme adopted throughout the book that opposing positions are regularly confronted, such as modern technology and medicine, with fables and folklore. This confrontation also relates to the novel’s location which is within former Yugoslavia but with families now spread across two unspecified countries
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Tiger's Wife, Téa Obreht

The Tiger's Wife is the debut novel of Serbian-American writer Téa Obreht. It was published in 2011.

The Tiger's Wife is set in an unnamed Balkan country, spanning the mid 20th-century to the early 21st century. It features a young doctor's relationship with her grandfather and the stories he tells her, primarily about the 'deathless man' who meets him several times in different places and never changes, and a deaf-mute girl from his childhood village who befriends a
...more
Stephen
Jan 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think it's interesting to look at the literature coming out now that has to do with building a mythology. Is it because of the incredible works of people like Angela Carter, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Italo Calvino and others who have influenced so strongly this generation? Or is it that as we become increasingly godless and mythless, there is something to the human that needs the myth to survive. I am reminded by the knitting and food preserving revolutions that have exploded, something that use ...more
Chrissie
I cannot recommend this book. I have given it only two stars. I am almost thinking of giving this one star. I will be very specific in listing what disturbed me. Let me mention immediately that those readers who enjoy fantasy novels will enjoy this more than I did. The events are so fantastical that I cannot classify this as a book of magical realism, but rather fantasy! I love magical realism, but dislike fantasy.

The themes covered are war, Balkan myths, death and man’s relationship to animals
...more
Sandra K.
I was born in Belgrade a few years before the author and (unlike her) lived there until college graduation, throughout the wars and crises of the 1990s. I was hoping that this book could tell some authentic stories about my generation and my homeland, but after reading it I am disappointed on various levels, which I will try to explain in this review.

MYTHS and RITUALS: I start here because this book is mostly advertised as a mythical Balkan novel. Some basic concepts the author does get right,
...more
Carolyn Crocker
Jun 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of those books that casts a spell from which you emerge so reluctantly after the last word. The cycles of death and rebirth, superstition and truth, love and revenge weave through the legends and family stories of the Balkans and the quests of two doctors, a modern young woman and her beloved grandfather.

"When your fight has purpose--to free you from something, to interfere on behalf of the innocent--it has the hope of finality. When the fight is about unraveling-- when it is about your nam
...more
PorshaJo
Let's be honest...I didn't really have a big desire to read this one. I ordered it to check it out since this author has a new book coming out. After a red-eye flight I had a very long drive and needed something to keep me awake. I figured what the heck, try this out.....and then, I was totally hooked

I was immediately drawn into the story. I binged, spent the entire weekend wanting to hear more. Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. She is very close
...more
Rusty
Feb 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I finished The Tiger's Wife by Tia Obrecht, I realized that this read is not the one I expected. Instead, it's a gentle read about memories, death, and the future. Natalia loves her grandfather dearly. He taught her so much about life and people that when he dies she begins to recall the many incidents that marked his life and hers. She was the only one he told he was so ill to the distress of her grandmother. He was her mentor so she, too, became a doctor. One of the stories that is so mem ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
Despite a university education, medical degrees, and the kind-hearted motives of some of the main characters of 'The Tiger's Wife' by Téa Obreht, a grandfather and granddaughter, and the scientifically proven science of healing, no one can stop destructive village myth-making behind local fears and grief caused by Death. Death cannot be simply a scientific process in the minds of locals, it has to have a physical presence and an intelligence, motivation and purpose. Death must be made into a phy ...more
Cecily
A tricky book to categorise, with SO many threads (and this review will do likewise): Natalia recounts her memories of two periods in her life: childhood and a journey she makes as a young doctor in the aftermath of the breakup of Yugoslavia. These are mingled with magical-realistic stories of a generation or two earlier, and references to Shere Khan in Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”.

There are also longish diversions into the backstory of other characters (Luka, the husband of "the Tiger’s Wife",
...more
Donald
Mar 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe this is Obreht's first novel. It is really really good.

When Obreht's name was announced on the New Yorker's '20 under 40' list, a lot of people complained about it. The complaints were of three varities: 1) misogyny (I read someone who denounced her as a "Barbie look-alike", which she isn't. But even if she was, what does that have to do with her writing?), 2) that she didn't have enough published work (no novels yet, only short stories), or 3) that she was a token 'young person'
...more
Cynthia
Ancient enmities, long ago legends.

I was disappointed which is probably not fair. This book and its author have been hyped so much it would almost be impossible to live up to, having said that this is a there are many wonderful parts to “The Tiger’s Wife”. Obrecht interweaves local Eastern European legends throughout the book helping to explicate the parts that take place currently. She explains a way of thinking through past belief and how those beliefs were formed. For the most part the people
...more
Anna Luce
Apr 03, 2020 rated it liked it
★★★✰✰ 3.25 stars

“He was alone and hungry, and that hunger, coupled with the thunderous noise of bombardment, had burned in him a kind of awareness of his own death, an imminent and innate knowledge he could neither dismiss nor succumb to.”


To begin with I was intrigued by Téa Obreht's The Tiger's Wife. Obreht's writing is both intelligent and beautifully oblique. Her descriptions of the moral and physical landscape of the Balkans are evocatively rendered. Although Obreht avoids naming countries,
...more
Britany
I'm still not even sure what I just read-- I'm still a little confused and have questions, but don't think I care enough to ponder them.

Natalia is a young Doctor off to help vaccinate the children in war stricken part of the Balkans. Meanwhile, her grandfather has died and claimed he was on his way to visit her. This novel weaves these two storylines together creating legends and lore that Natalia has to sift through to come to terms with what happened to her grandfather.

I was bored almost thro
...more
Rachel
What an incredibly pleasant surprise.  Not only did this not sound like my type of book (it has been well documented that I don't get on with magical realism), I was doing a group buddy read - I started the book last, and by the time I picked it up, only one other person in the group ended up liking it.  So despite all the critical acclaim, I thought it was a foregone conclusion that I was going to hate The Tiger's Wife.  But I actually have to side with the critics on this one!

This book was enc
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is the first book I read for my Around the World challenge, and what a way to start. The reason I have both Yugoslavia and Croatia listed is that the locations are intentionally unnamed or made up throughout the novel. Obreht does this on purpose to disassociate story from place, since so much of the turmoil in that area of the world is caused by family name endings and minor differences.

The story is about two generations of doctors in a family - the grandfather and the granddaughter, and a
...more
Erin
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-borrowed
What do you say in a moment like this? When you can't find the words to tell it like it is.
Just bite your tongue and let your heart lead the way.

Lyrics from What do you say? Reba McEntire


Friends, I am literally drawing strength from a country song as I write this review. Please cover your eyes and plug your ears and know that it's not you, it's me. I have read thousands of reviews( okay maybe a slight exaggeration ) in the last 24 hours, including many literary critics and interviews with
...more
Julie Christine
I've been under the weather all week, but finally gave up the ghost on Thursday, promising myself a day of Victorian languishment on the sofa, indulging in cold cereal and a book. Thus was I able to finish The Tiger's Wife, started the night before as I huddled on that same sofa, shivering with fever and chills.

My physical state - which left me feeling hollow, forlorn, a bit weepy and frustrated - was the ideal condition in which to engage fully in Tea Obreht's Orange Prize-winning The Tiger's
...more
Mary
Jan 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, balkans, 2012
Perhaps because I have some family ties to the region of the former Yugoslavia, I lovingly embraced the setting of The Tiger's Wife. "The City" is never revealed but I assumed it was meant to be Belgrade. I recognized some of the superstitions and folk tales and smiled and rolled my eyes. When our protagonist Natalia describes the uses of rakija to bring down a fever I was transported back to my childhood bedroom and the eye-stinging stench of rakija-soaked towels forcibly pressed to my forehead ...more
Hannah
My thoughts can be summed up with: "meh". Some really great parts but also long stretches that did not work for me.

Review to come.
Becky
OK... So here's the deal. Maybe this book is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I just couldn't take it anymore. I made it through almost 3 of 9 discs of the audio, and every time I turned it back on, I immediately found myself getting annoyed and frustrated. Seriously, immediately. There was no transition from perfectly fine, through tetchy to peevish to annoyed. Nope. I turn on this audiobook, and then I hear the narration, and 2 seconds later I want to rip out my car CD player in a Hu ...more
April
May 02, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Initially, getting into this book was quite difficult for me. There just wasn't enough there in the beginning chapters to hook me in, but I kept reading anyway because of the praises for this book. I kept thinking, am I not getting something here? There's been a large amount of hype for "The Tiger's Wife" and perhaps that's the reason why it did not live up to my expectations. The folklore tales were the best part of this book. I enjoyed reading about the origins of all of the characters that ha ...more
Judith E
DNF at 41%.

Probably good for high school literature class discussions as it would appeal to their juvenile years and the glaring symbolism through folk tales. I felt the characters were very contrived and smacked with behaviors in an attempt to make them more interesting.

I’m so disappointed. It seemed so promising.
Greg Coates
I consider myself of at least average intelligence, but this book lost me. I know the critics loved it and so it is an act of daring for me to state this, but I don't think this is a good novel. So despite what the experts say, i must insist that the emperor isn't wearing any clothes. And here are my reasons why:

- I don't become emotionally attached to a single character. Perhaps that's because there is little to no character development,
- I don't know what this story is "about.". The search for
...more
Abby
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recent-favorites
This is a wonder of a novel! I requested it from LTER after reading two stories by Téa Obreht in The New Yorker, one of which turns out to have been an excerpt from this book. The stories were remarkable for their beautifully crafted language and sheer storytelling power and raised my expectations for the novel. I could not have been more richly rewarded.

Natalia, a young doctor in an unnamed Balkan country still suffering from the effects of a war that has torn the country apart, travels across
...more
Rebecca
I was both surprised and enchanted by this Orange Prize winner. My only prior knowledge of the novel was that it was set in Eastern Europe in wartime, which, I must sheepishly admit, had me expecting dull, hokey descriptions of local custom and embarrassing attempts at heart-rending emotion. Luckily Obreht, at the ripe old age of 25, had the subtlety to avoid cliché and tedium.

The novel reminded me most of Everything is Illuminated, with its modern-day protagonist taking a journey into an ancest
...more
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Téa Obreht was born in 1985 in the former Yugoslavia, and spent her childhood in Cyprus and Egypt before eventually immigrating to the United States in 1997. Her writing has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Zoetrope: All-Story, The New York Times, and The Guardian, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Non-Required Reading. Her ...more

Articles featuring this book

In The Tiger's Wife, a young doctor investigates her grandfather's mysterious death. Obreht shares an image of the Balkan region that inspired her ...
13 likes · 16 comments
“When your fight has purpose—to free you from something, to interfere on the behalf of an innocent—it has a hope of finality. When the fight is about unraveling—when it is about your name, the places to which your blood is anchored, the attachment of your name to some landmark or event—there is nothing but hate, and the long, slow progression of people who feed on it and are fed it, meticulously, by the ones who come before them. Then the fight is endless, and comes in waves and waves, but always retains its capacity to surprise those who hope against it.” 66 likes
“Come on, is your heart a sponge or a fist?” 54 likes
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