March 2011 Indie Next List
“Very rarely does a first novel announce a major new talent, but so it is with The Tiger's Wife. Brilliantly using myth and legend from the Balkans, Tea Obreht tells the story of a young doctor, her grandfather, and their shared history against the backdrop of the area's decades of turmoil and sorrow. This brilliant effort evokes echoes of Borges and Garcia Marques, and is certain to mesmerize the reader.”
— Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI
Summer 2012 Reading Group
“Very rarely does a first novel announce a major new talent, but so it is with The Tiger's Wife. Brilliantly using myth and legend from the Balkans, Tea Obreht tells the story of a young doctor, her grandfather, and their shared history against the backdrop of the area's decades of turmoil and sorrow. This brilliant effort evokes echoes of Borges and Garcia Marquez, and is certain to mesmerize the reader.”
— Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI
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
Weaving a brilliant latticework of family legend, loss, and love, Téa Obreht, the youngest of The New Yorker’s twenty best American fiction writers under forty, has spun a timeless novel that will establish her as one of the most vibrant, original authors of her generation.
In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.
But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel.
Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather’s final state of mind, she turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. On their weeklytrips to the zoo he would read to her from a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which he carried with him everywhere; later, he told her stories of his own encounters over many years with “the deathless man,” a vagabond who claimed to be immortal and appeared never to age. But the most extraordinary story of all is the one her grandfather never told her, the one Natalia must discover for herself. One winter during the Second World War, his childhood village was snowbound, cut off even from the encroaching German invaders but haunted by another, fierce presence: a tiger who comes ever closer under cover of darkness. “These stories,” Natalia comes to understand, “run like secret rivers through all the other stories” of her grandfather’s life. And it is ultimately within these rich, luminous narratives that she will find the answer she is looking for.
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.
“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
“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