The Tiger’s Wife

The Tiger's Wife So, the first book I have decided to pick is indeed a very intriguing read. This is Téa Obreht’s first novel and the topic definitely seemed to be down my alley.  It has just won the 2011 Orange Prize for fiction, so it must be a good choice!  I enjoy books with animals and magic realism, but also ones that focus on family issues (whether it involves tearing the family apart or bringing them closer together).  This story has all three ingredients.  I have a lot of other reading interests as well, which you will eventually find out as you explore my two blogs.
The bulk of the story has the main character Natalia, a doctor in the war-torn Balkans, trying to find out where her grandfather had traveled to just before he dies.  More importantly, she wants to find out why.  We are shown how her relationship with her grandfather seemed to be a close bond when she was a young child, but then (as usually is the case), her ties to him become more loose as she becomes a young adult.
When her grandmother informs Natalia of her grandfather’s death over the phone, the young doctor is saddened but also surprised at hearing he had gone somewhere that only she would know where (according to her grandmother).  Not only does she have to convince her grandmother that she has no clue where he could have gone, but she must also find out for herself what his destination was.  It is through storytelling, folklores and superstitions that Natalia finds the answer.
I loved the way the stories in this novel are connected to each other (like how the butcher, Luka has ties to the Deathless Man).  I also noted how they made me feel.  When I read this book, the fables from the village either made me smile or gave me chills.  I don’t know whether it is because I come from a European background or because I just love folklores, but this novel certainly did not disappoint.

If you are a member of the library, we have this title in different formats:
Hard copy (F O131t)
Downloadable audiobook
Check the catalogue for availability.

To read book reviews on The Tiger’s Wife, click on the links below.
For The New York Times review:

Review from The National Post:

For information about the author:

Discussion Questions
If you have read this book, please let me know whether you liked it or not, and the reasons for your opinion.  Did anyone listen to it?  I would like to know if it was an enjoyable recording.  Also, here are some questions to think about:

-Why did Natalia decide to become a doctor?
-Which sections of the novel do you find more compelling: Natalia’s contemporary life or her grandfather’s magical fables?

Please see further discussion questions for this novel (courtesy of by clicking below:

Interesting Tidbit:
The famous zoo that is featured in the story, actually exists and is known as the Belgrade Zoo Garden.  Here is a link to English information on the Belgrade tourist website:

This book reminded me of …
While reading The Tiger’s Wife, three novels came to mind.  I was thinking about Elizabeth Kostova’s book The Historian, The Life of Pi  by Yann Martel, and Fauna by Alissa York.  The first novel has a lot to do with folklore and villagers’ superstitions, as well as dracula (who can be compared in one way to The Deathless Man).  The second book, of course, has a tiger as one of the characters that is given human qualities, just as in Obreht’s novel.  I only bring up the third title because Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” is a major focus in the story, just as it plays a role in The Tiger’s Wife.

Favorite quote from book:
“My mother always says that fear and pain are immediate, and that, when they’re gone, we’re left with the concept, but not the true memory—why else, she reasons, would anyone give birth more than once?” (p. 168)

Most memorable moment of the story:
The part that stayed with me the most and left a strong impression, was the ironic fate of the blacksmith.  The moment is over within a sentence, but it still proves to be unforgettable and it definitely takes you by surprise.  I never saw it coming … and I’m pretty sure the blacksmith didn’t either! (p. 124)

Next month’s title:
Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

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3 Responses to The Tiger’s Wife

  1. Melissa says:

    The floor is open for discussion! Let me know your thoughts.

  2. I cannot concur with you any more! Fantastic article, have a good day, All the best.

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