Author: Tea Obreht
Title: The Tiger’s Wife
Description: Natalia’s grandfather, a doctor, grew up in a small village and befriended the tiger’s wife. He also had several run-ins with the deathless man. The novel opens on the day of her grandfather’s death, and Natalia, away from home on a medical assignment, remembers his tales and seeks more information about the circumstances of his death. The novel moves back and forth between the present day, where Natalia, herself a doctor, visits a village where a mysterious family comes to dig in the vineyard, and the past, both that of Natalia’s childhood and that of her grandfather’s youth. Folk tales blend with magical realism in this tale of family, war, and hope.
Review source: Netgalley
Plot: There are several storylines going on in the novel, and some are more successful than others. I found the story of the deathless man to be the most fascinating, and always welcomed the sections of the book that dealt with him. The story of Natalia herself, though, was not as gripping—probably because it did not have the supernatural pull.
Characters: Natalia, her grandfather, her grandmother, the deathless man, the tiger’s wife—they all struck me as fairy tale characters; in other words, they have things happen to them, but they don’t seem like people I would relate to.
Writing style: I enjoyed Obreht’s writing style; she doesn’t back off from strong symbolism, for example, or stories embedded in stories embedded in stories. There was a certain lack of urgency—Natalia herself was never in danger during the novel, so the reader has the luxury of savoring the stories without worrying about the outcome.
Audience: This is literary fiction; I read a review that compared it to YA, and although I disagree with the review, I do think that teenagers would probably like it. The book won this year's Orange Prize.
Wrap-up: The book reads as if it is a collection of tales connected by a loose overarching story; as such, when the tales are gripping, the book is worthwhile. I enjoyed this read, though I kept waiting for more to happen than eventually did. 4/5*