The Tiger's Wife: A Novel

Hardcover | October 18, 2016

byTea Obreht

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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.

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From the Publisher

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERNAMED 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...

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 nam...

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Kobo ebook|Oct 1 2012

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Tigers Wife
Tigers Wife

Paperback|Nov 5 2012


La femme du tigre
La femme du tigre

Paperback|Oct 13 2011


Format:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 8.53 × 5.78 × 1.07 inPublished:October 18, 2016Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385343833

ISBN - 13:9780385343831

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great writer! I really enjoyed reading this book. It is really well written and the author's language is enjoyable. The story was captivating although I wasn't sure why the author did not spend more time on the story of the tiger's wife. It felt like the book was about something or somebody else. Overall, good read. Seggestion-update your knowledge on political situation in post Yugoslavia as I found it to be essential to fully enjoy the plot and the characters.
Date published: 2011-10-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A book for story lovers I really enjoyed The Tigers Wife, even though I didn't always know where it was going. The basic premise is Natalia's grandfather dies while making a journey to a nearby village and he has lied about why he was heading there. Natalia unwinds the mystery of her grandfather's last journey by remembering the various stories he's told her throughout her life. I found the story of the deathless man the most enjoyable and the most relevant. The story of the Tiger's Wife rambled a bit too much, and while the detours it took were enjoyable, I think it took away from the main story a bit. Those could almost have been stand alone stories. I didn't quite understand the point of the tiger's wife story. It was nice, but seemed to have a depth I wasn't astute enough to get. Maybe I'm over thinking it, who knows? A basic knowledge of the war in former Yugoslavia would be helpful before reading it, as that is when and where it takes place. There are a lot of obscure references that are not explained, but can be guessed at if you don't get them. I look forward to more by Obreht.
Date published: 2011-06-20

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Read from the Book

1The Coastthe forty days of the soul begin on the morning after death. That first night, before its forty days begin, the soul lies still against sweated-on pillows and watches the living fold the hands and close the eyes, choke the room with smoke and silence to keep the new soul from the doors and the windows and the cracks in the floor so that it does not run out of the house like a river. The living know that, at daybreak, the soul will leave them and make its way to the places of its past—the schools and dormitories of its youth, army barracks and tenements, houses razed to the ground and rebuilt, places that recall love and guilt, difficulties and unbridled happiness, optimism and ecstasy, memories of grace meaningless to anyone else—and sometimes this journey will carry it so far for so long that it will forget to come back. For this reason, the living bring their own rituals to a standstill: to welcome the newly loosed spirit, the living will not clean, will not wash or tidy, will not remove the soul’s belongings for forty days, hoping that sentiment and longing will bring it home again, encourage it to return with a message, with a sign, or with forgiveness.If it is properly enticed, the soul will return as the days go by, to rummage through drawers, peer inside cupboards, seek the tactile comfort of its living identity by reassessing the dish rack and the doorbell and the telephone, reminding itself of functionality, all the time touching things that produce sound and make its presence known to the inhabitants of the house.Speaking quietly into the phone, my grandma reminded me of this after she told me of my grandfather’s death. For her, the forty days were fact and common sense, knowledge left over from burying two parents and an older sister, assorted cousins and strangers from her hometown, a formula she had recited to comfort my grandfather whenever he lost a patient in whom he was particularly invested—a superstition, according to him, but something in which he had indulged her with less and less protest as old age had hardened her beliefs.My grandma was shocked, angry because we had been robbed of my grandfather’s forty days, reduced now to thirty-seven or thirty-eight by the circumstances of his death. He had died alone, on a trip away from home; she hadn’t known that he was already dead when she ironed his clothes the day before, or washed the dishes that morning, and she couldn’t account for the spiritual consequences of her ignorance. He had died in a clinic in an obscure town called Zdrevkov on the other side of the border; no one my grandma had spoken to knew where Zdrevkov was, and when she asked me, I told her the truth: I had no idea what he had been doing there.“You’re lying,” she said.“Bako, I’m not.”“He told us he was on his way to meet you.”“That can’t be right,” I said.He had lied to her, I realized, and lied to me. He had taken advantage of my own cross-country trip to slip away—a week ago, she was saying, by bus, right after I had set out myself—and had gone off for some reason unknown to either of us. It had taken the Zdrevkov clinic staff three whole days to track my grandma down after he died, to tell her and my mother that he was dead, arrange to send his body. It had arrived at the City morgue that morning, but by then, I was already four hundred miles from home, standing in the public bathroom at the last service station before the border, the pay phone against my ear, my pant legs rolled up, sandals in hand, bare feet slipping on the green tiles under the broken sink.Somebody had fastened a bent hose onto the faucet, and it hung, nozzle down, from the boiler pipes, coughing thin streams of water onto the floor. It must have been going for hours: water was everywhere, flooding the tile grooves and pooling around the rims of the squat toilets, dripping over the doorstep and into the dried-up garden behind the shack. None of this fazed the bathroom attendant, a middle-aged woman with an orange scarf tied around her hair, whom I had found dozing in a corner chair and dismissed from the room with a handful of bills, afraid of what those seven missed beeper pages from my grandma meant before I even picked up the receiver.I was furious with her for not having told me that my grandfather had left home. He had told her and my mother that he was worried about my goodwill mission, about the inoculations at the Brejevina orphanage, and that he was coming down to help. But I couldn’t berate my grandma without giving myself away, because she would have told me if she had known about his illness, which my grandfather and I had hidden from her. So I let her talk, and said nothing about how I had been with him at the Military Academy of Medicine three months before when he had found out, or how the oncologist, a lifelong colleague of my grandfather’s, had shown him the scans and my grandfather had put his hat down on his knee and said, “Fuck. You go looking for a gnat and you find a donkey.”I put two more coins into the slot, and the phone whirred. Sparrows were diving from the brick ledges of the bathroom walls, dropping into the puddles at my feet, shivering water over their backs. The sun outside had baked the early afternoon into stillness, and the hot, wet air stood in the room with me, shining in the doorway that led out to the road, where the cars at border control were packed in a tight line along the glazed tarmac. I could see our car, left side dented from a recent run-in with a tractor, and Zóra sitting in the driver’s seat, door propped open, one long leg dragging along the ground, glances darting back toward the bathroom more and more often as she drew closer to the customs booth.“They called last night,” my grandma was saying, her voice louder. “And I thought, they’ve made a mistake. I didn’t want to call you until we were sure, to worry you in case it wasn’t him. But your mother went down to the morgue this morning.” She was quiet, and then: “I don’t understand, I don’t understand any of it.”“I don’t either, Bako,” I said.“He was going to meet you.”“I didn’t know about it.”Then the tone of her voice changed. She was suspicious, my grandma, of why I wasn’t crying, why I wasn’t hysterical. For the first ten minutes of our conversation, she had probably allowed herself to believe that my calm was the result of my being in a foreign hospital, on assignment, surrounded, perhaps, by colleagues. She would have challenged me a lot sooner if she had known that I was hiding in the border-stop bathroom so that Zóra wouldn’t overhear.She said, “Haven’t you got anything to say?”“I just don’t know, Bako. Why would he lie about coming to see me?”“You haven’t asked if it was an accident,” she said. “Why haven’t you asked that? Why haven’t you asked how he died?”“I didn’t even know he had left home,” I said. “I didn’t know any of this was going on.”“You’re not crying,” she said.“Neither are you.”“Your mother is heartbroken,” she said to me. “He must have known. They said he was very ill—so he must have known, he must have told someone. Was it you?”“If he had known, he wouldn’t have gone anywhere,” I said, with what I hoped was conviction. “He would have known better.” There were white towels stacked neatly on a metal shelf above the mirror, and I wiped my face and neck with one, and then another, and the skin of my face and neck left gray smears on towel after towel until I had used up five. There was no laundry basket to put them in, so I left them in the sink. “Where is this place where they found him?” I said. “How far did he go?”“I don’t know,” she said. “They didn’t tell us. Somewhere on the other side.”“Maybe it was a specialty clinic,” I said.“He was on his way to see you.”“Did he leave a letter?”He hadn’t. My mother and grandma, I realized, had both probably seen his departure as part of his unwillingness to retire, like his relationship with a new housebound patient outside the City—a patient we had made up as a cover for his visits to the oncologist friend from the weekly doctors’ luncheon, a man who gave injections of some formulas that were supposed to help with the pain. Colorful formulas, my grandfather said when he came home, as if he knew the whole time that the formulas were just water laced with food coloring, as if it didn’t matter anymore. He had, at first, more or less retained his healthy cast, which made hiding his illness easier; but after seeing him come out of these sessions just once, I had threatened to tell my mother, and he said: “Don’t you dare.” And that was that.My grandma was asking me: “Are you already in Brejevina?”“We’re at the border,” I said. “We just came over on the ferry.”Outside, the line of cars was beginning to move again. I saw Zóra put her cigarette out on the ground, pull her leg back in and slam the door. A flurry of people who had assembled on the gravel shoulder to stretch and smoke, to check their tires and fill water bottles at the fountain, to look impatiently down the line, or dispose of pastries and sandwiches they had been attempting to smuggle, or urinate against the side of the bathroom, scrambled to get back to their vehicles.My grandma was silent for a few moments. I could hear the line clicking, and then she said: “Your mother wants to have the funeral in the next few days. Couldn’t Zóra go on to Brejevina by herself?”If I had told Zóra about it, she would have made me go home immediately. She would have given me the car, taken the vaccine coolers, and hitchhiked across the border to make the University’s good-faith delivery to the orphanage at Brejevina up the coast. But I said: “We’re almost there, Bako, and a lot of kids are waiting on these shots.”She didn’t ask me again. My grandma just gave me the date of the funeral, the time, the place, even though I already knew where it would be, up on Strmina, the hill overlooking the City, where Mother Vera, my great-great-grandmother, was buried. After she hung up, I ran the faucet with my elbow and filled the water bottles I had brought as my pretext for getting out of the car. On the gravel outside, I rinsed off my feet before putting my shoes back on; Zóra left the engine running and jumped out to take her turn while I climbed into the driver’s seat, pulled it forward to compensate for my height, and made sure our licenses and medication import documents were lined up in the correct order on the dashboard. Two cars in front of us, a customs official, green shirt clinging to his chest, was opening the hatchback of an elderly couple’s car, leaning carefully into it, unzipping suitcases with a gloved hand.When Zóra got back, I didn’t tell her anything about my grandfather. It had already been a bleak year for us both. I had made the mistake of walking out with the nurses during the strike in January; rewarded for my efforts with an indefinite suspension from the Vojvodja clinic, I had been housebound for months—a blessing, in a way, because it meant I was around for my grandfather when the diagnosis came in. He was glad of it at first, but never passed up the opportunity to call me a gullible jackass for getting suspended. And then, as his illness wore on, he began spending less and less time at home, and suggested I do the same; he didn’t want me hanging around, looking morose, scaring the hell out of him when he woke up without his glasses on to find me hovering over his bed in the middle of the night. My behavior, he said, was tipping my grandma off about his illness, making her suspicious of our silences and exchanges, and of the fact that my grandfather and I were busier than ever now that we were respectively retired and suspended. He wanted me to think about my specialization, too, about what I would do with myself once the suspension was lifted—he was not surprised that Srdjan, a professor of biochemical engineering with whom I had, according to my grandfather, “been tangling,” had failed to put in a good word for me with the suspension committee. At my grandfather’s suggestion, I had gone back to volunteering with the University’s United Clinics program, something I hadn’t done since the end of the war.Zóra was using this volunteering mission as an excuse to get away from a blowup at the Military Academy of Medicine. Four years after getting her medical degree, she was still at the trauma center, hoping that exposure to a variety of surgical procedures would help her decide on a specialization. Unfortunately, she had spent the bulk of that time under a trauma director known throughout the City as Ironglove—a name he had earned during his days as chief of obstetrics, when he had failed to remove the silver bracelets he kept stacked on his wrist during pelvic examinations. Zóra was a woman of principle, an open atheist. At the age of thirteen, a priest had told her that animals had no souls, and she had said, “Well then, fuck you, Pops,” and walked out of church; four years of butting heads with Ironglove had culminated in an incident that Zóra, under the direction of the state prosecutor, was prohibited from discussing. Zóra’s silence on the subject extended even to me, but the scraps I had heard around hospital hallways centered around a railway worker, an accident, and a digital amputation during which Ironglove, who may or may not have been inebriated, had said something like: “Don’t worry, sir—it’s a lot easier to watch the second finger come off if you’re biting down on the first.”Naturally, a lawsuit was in the works, and Zóra had been summoned back to testify against Ironglove. Despite his reputation, he was still well connected in the medical community, and now Zóra was torn between sticking it to a man she had despised for years, and risking a career and reputation she was just beginning to build for herself; for the first time no one—not me, not her father, not her latest boyfriend—could point her in the right direction. After setting out, we had spent a week at the United Clinics headquarters for our briefing and training, and all this time she had met both my curiosity and the state prosecutor’s incessant phone calls with the same determined silence. Then yesterday, against all odds, she had admitted to wanting my grandfather’s advice as soon as we got back to the City. She hadn’t seen him around the hospital for the past month, hadn’t seen his graying face, the way his skin was starting to loosen around his bones.We watched the customs officer confiscate two jars of beach pebbles from the elderly couple, and wave the next car through; when he got to us, he spent twenty minutes looking over our passports and identity cards, our letters of certification from the University. He opened the medicine coolers and lined them up on the tarmac while Zóra towered over him, arms crossed, and then said, “You realize, of course, that the fact that it’s in a cooler means it’s temperature-sensitive—or don’t they teach you about refrigeration at the village schoolhouse?” knowing that everything was in order, knowing that, realistically, he couldn’t touch us. This challenge, however, prompted him to search the car for weapons, stowaways, shellfish, and uncertified pets for a further thirty minutes.Twelve years ago, before the war, the people of Brejevina had been our people. The border had been a joke, an occasional formality, and you used to drive or fly or walk across as you pleased, by woodland, by water, by open plain. You used to offer the customs officials sandwiches or jars of pickled peppers as you went through. Nobody asked you your name—although, as it turned out, everyone had apparently been anxious about it all along, about how your name started and ended. Our assignment in Brejevina was intended to rebuild something. Our University wanted to collaborate with the local government in getting several orphanages on their feet, and to begin attracting young people from across the border back to the City. That was the long-term diplomatic objective of our journey—but in layman’s terms Zóra and I were there to sanitize children orphaned by our own soldiers, to examine them for pneumonia and tuberculosis and lice, to inoculate them against measles, mumps, rubella, and other assorted diseases to which they had been subjected during the war and the years of destitution that followed it. Our contact in Brejevina, a Franciscan monk named Fra Antun, had been enthusiastic and hospitable, paging us to make sure our journey was unencumbered, and to assure us that his parents, conveniently enough, were looking forward to hosting us. His voice was always cheerful, especially for a man who had spent the last three years fighting to fund the establishment and construction of the first official orphanage on the coast, and who was, in the meantime, housing sixty orphaned children at a monastery intended to accommodate twenty monks.Zóra and I were joining up for this charitable trip before our lives took us apart for the first time in the twenty-some-odd years we had known each other. We would wear our white doctors’ coats even off duty in order to appear simultaneously trustworthy and disconcerting. We were formidable with our four supplies coolers loaded with vials of MMR-II and IPV, with boxes of candy we were bringing to stave off the crying and screaming we felt certain would ensue once the inoculation got going. We had an old map, which we kept in the car years after it had become completely inaccurate. We had used the map on every road trip we had ever taken, and it showed in the marker scribbling all over it: the crossed-out areas we were supposed to avoid on our way to some medical conference or other, the stick man holding crudely drawn skis on a mountain resort we had loved that was no longer a part of our country.I couldn’t find Zdrevkov, the place where my grandfather died, on that map. I couldn’t find Brejevina either, but I had known in advance that it was missing, so we had drawn it in. It was a small seaside village forty kilometers east of the new border. We drove through red-roofed villages that clung to the lip of the sea, past churches and horse pastures, past steep plains bright with purple bellflowers, past sunlit waterfalls that thrust out of the sheer rock-face above the road. Every so often we entered woodland, high pine forests dotted with olives and cypresses, the sea flashing like a knife where the forest fell away down the slope. Parts of the road were well paved, but there were places where it ripped up into ruts and stretches of gravel that hadn’t been fixed in years.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Tiger’s Wife:New York Times – 5 Best books (fiction) of 2011 New York Times – Michiko’s top 10 books of 2011 New York Times – 100 Notable Books of 2011 NPR / All Things Considered – Alan Cheuse’s top 5 novels of 2011 O, the Oprah Magazine – 2011 Best Books Entertainment Weekly – Top 10 books (Fiction) of 2011 Esquire – 2011 round-up The Economist – 2011 Best of Books – 2011 Best of Books list – 2011 Best of Books list Christian Science Monitor – Top 10 books (Fiction) of 2011 Publishers Weekly – Top 100 books of year Library Journal – top 10 books of 2011 Seattle Times – 32 of the Year’s Best Books Kansas City Star – Top 10 Books of 2011   “Of the books I read this year by people I’ve never laid eyes on, the most peculiar and brilliant may have been The Tiger’s Wife, by Téa Obreht. Constructed from anecdote and fable, it is sometimes written in a kind of medical poetry, its main characters being doctors whose attention to the permeable line between life and death suits the tales of old and new Yugoslavia that Obreht wishes to tell.” —Lorrie Moore, New Yorker online “Stunning…Obreht writes with an angel's pen on this tiger's tale within the novel, and on myriad other matters, from birth, death and immortality, creating a skein of descriptive passages flush with brilliant detail and ringing with lyrical diction.”—, Alan Cheuse's Top 5 Fiction Picks of 2011   “Attention all book groups: The Tiger's Wife is an ideal book for discussion, and not only because of the handy reader's guide included, or because of the nifty conversation between Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan and Tea Obreht…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 Holiday Books Round-up“[A] brilliant debut…[Téa] Obreht is an expert at depicting history through aftermath, people through the love they inspire, and place through the stories that endure; the reflected world she creates is both immediately recognizable and a legend in its own right. Obreht is talented far beyond her years, and her unsentimental faith in language, dream, and memory is a pleasure.”– Publishers Weekly, starred review  “Not even Obreht’s place on The New Yorker’s current “20 Under 40” list of exceptional writers will prepare readers for the transporting richness and surprise of this gripping novel of legends and loss…[Contains] moments of breathtaking magic, wildness and beauty…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  “Dizzyingly nuanced yet crisp, [and] muscularly written…This complex, humbling, and beautifully crafted debut from one of The New Yorker's 20 Under 40 is highly recommended for anyone seriously interested in contemporary fiction.” – Library Journal, starred review “A cracking, complex, gorgeously wrought saga that resonates as a meditation on life, love…and our responsibility to the stories we inherit from our grandparents…Obreht is a natural literary descendant of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Gabriel Garcia Marquez….The Tiger’s Wife is an original and wonderful novel…It makes for a thrilling beginning to what will certainly be a great literary career.” – Kate Christensen, Elle “Deftly walks the line between the realistic and the fantastical…In Obreht’s expert hands, the novel’s mythology, while rooted in a foreign world, comes to seem somehow familiar, like the dark fairy tales of our own youth, the kind that spooked us into reading them again and again…[Reveals] oddly comforting truths about death, belief in the impossible, and the art of letting go.” – O: The Oprah Magazine“Téa Obreht is the most thrilling literary discovery in years.” —Colum McCann“A novel of surpassing beauty, exquisitely wrought and magical. Téa Obreht is a towering new talent.”—T. C. Boyle “A marvel of beauty and imagination. Téa Obreht is a tremendously talented writer.”—Ann Patchett“It is difficult, maybe impossible, when reading a hotly anticipated first novel by a celebrated 25-year-old-writer, not to think about her age, to subconsciously search for evidence of callowness, inexperience and showiness…I opened The Tiger’s Wife prepared to empathize with [Téa] Obreht’s youth, and to temper my reaction if the novel didn’t, as a whole, stand up to the expectations and hype.  Because, really how could it?  But the book does, and then some.  Obreht is a natural literary descendant of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Gabriel García Marquez…After a few pages I forgot her age entirely except to marvel at the precocity of her work’s vast intelligence, at the beauty of her descriptive prose, at her authoritative voice, and her controlled mastery of a complex narrative…The Tiger’s Wife is an original and wonderful novel…It makes for a thrilling beginning to what will certainly be a great literary career.” – Kate Christensen, reviewing for Elle   “One of the most extraordinary debut novels of recent memory…A gorgeous farrago of stories in which realism collides with myth, superstition with empirical fact, and allegory with history…Obreht elides the sentimental Chagall villages that other writers have made of Eastern Europe, crafting instead something far more ambitious, and universal: an apotheosis of storytelling as a bulwark against brutality – and a balm for grief.” – Vogue  “Written in a wry, classical, luxuriant style reminiscent of Tolstoy… [The Tiger’s Wife] would be a spectacular accomplishment under any circumstance, but the fact that Obreht is only 25 years old makes the whole thing downright supernatural.” – Marie Claire      “Deftly walks the line between the realistic and the fantastical…In Obreht’s expert hands, the novel’s mythology, while rooted in a foreign world, comes to seem somehow familiar, like the dark fairy tales of our own youth, the kind that spooked us into reading them again and again…[Reveals] oddly comforting truths about death, belief in the impossible, and the art of letting go.” – O: The Oprah Magazine  “This stunning debut novel reads like a Balkan Arabian Nights.” – Good Housekeeping“Téa Obreht’s stunning debut novel, The Tiger’s Wife, is a hugely ambitious, audaciously written work…[She] writes with remarkable authority and eloquence, and she demonstrates an uncommon ability to move seamlessly between the gritty realm of the real and the more primary-colored world of the fable…It’s not so much magical realism in the tradition of Gabriel García Marquez or Günter Grass as it is an extraordinarily limber exploration of allegory and myth…A richly textured and searing novel.”  – Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times     “Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife comes freighted with more critical anticipation than any debut novel in recent memory…That sort of unearned, pre-emptive prestige spurs both impossible expectations and skeptical readings – a burden that would doom most first novels.  Yet The Tiger’s Wife, in its solemn beauty and unerring execution, fully justifies the accolades that Ms. Obreht’s short fiction inspired.   She 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 seemed more likely to disappoint; no novel has been more satisfying.”  – The Wall Street Journal     “[A] spectacular debut novel…[Obreht] spins a tale of such marvel and magic in a literary voice so enchanting the mesmerized reader wants her never to stop….Obreht will make headlines as one of the most exciting new writers of her generation, a young artist with the maturity and grace that comes of knowing where one is from, and of honoring those who came before.”  – Entertainment Weekly  (Grade: A)     “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…Not since Zadie Smith has a young writer arrived with such power and grace….“[An] astounding debut novel.” – Time Magazine     “Ingeniously, Obreht juxtaposes [her protagonist’s] matter-of-fact narration with contemporary folk tales that are as simple, enthralling, and sometimes brutal as fables by Kipling or Dinesen…Filled with astonishing immediacy and presence, fleshed out with detail that seems firsthand, The Tiger’s Wife is all the more remarkable for being a product not of observation but imagination….Arrestingly, Obreht shows that you don’t have to go back centuries to find history transformed into myth; the process can occur within a lifetime is a gifted observer is on hand to record it.”  – Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review, cover review     “Astonishingly assured…full of vivid, dreamlike sequences…Obreht’s mesmerizing writing is key to the novel, which succeeds through a kind of harmonic resonance...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     “Deliver[s] the kind of truth history can’t touch…Well-deserved praise [for The Tiger’s Wife] has been accumulating ever since Obreht published a chapter in The New Yorker almost two years ago, and now that we have the whole, its graceful commingling of contemporary realism and village legend seems even more absorbing…That The Tiger’s Wife never slips entirely into magical realism is part of its magic – its agile play with tragic material and with us…Conveyed in storytelling this enchanting, it’s the life you remember.” – Ron Charles, The Washington Post     “A terrifically involving knot of legend and history…Obreht is at once a controlled prose stylist and a consummate yarn spinner, and it’s difficult not to fall for her.”  – Time Out New York (5 of 5 stars)