The Tiger’s Wife
‘Having sifted through everything I have heard about the tiger and his wife, I can tell you that this much is fact: in April of 1941, without declaration or warning, the German bombs started falling over the city and did not stop for three days. The tiger did not know that they were bombs…’
A tiger escapes from the local zoo, padding through the ruined streets and onwards, to a ridge above the Balkan village of Galina. His nocturnal visits hold the villagers in a terrified thrall. But for one boy, the tiger is a thing of magic – Shere Khan awoken from the pages of The Jungle Book.
Natalia is the granddaughter of that boy. Now a doctor, she is visiting orphanages after another war has devastated the Balkans. On this journey, she receives word of her beloved grandfather’s death, far from their home, in circumstances shrouded in mystery.
From fragments of stories her grandfather told her as a child, Natalia realises he may have died searching for ‘the deathless man’, a vagabond who was said to be immortal. Struggling to understand why a man of science would undertake such a quest, she stumbles upon a clue that will lead her to a tattered copy of The Jungle Book, and then to the extraordinary story of the tiger’s wife.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
The Tiger’s Wife is a mythic blend of medicine, magic, memory, and the horrors of war, set in an unnamed Balkan country.
This novel is a touching, gripping, and beautifully written story about a family, their love and loss.
The luckiest of us are raised with stories, and reach a time later in life when we have to accept that, as humans, the lines between truth and fiction are rarely certain. In The Tiger’s Wife it is all equally relevant. What is true and fantastic is that an author so young could write such a profoundly and elementally moving novel.
Fable and allegory illustrating Balkan history is combined with matter of fact narration to tell the story of a grandfather, his death, and the real price of war.
Miss Obreht’s prose is at once precise, sometimes grim, searing and nearly indelible. This is a book that will grab you by the throat and not let you go til the very end.
It was well-written, in that it drew me in to the stories (plural because there are about three different stories in the overall plot), of one woman’s search for the cause of her grandfather’s death.
A book that introduces a brutal subject in a lyrical, involving style that stays with you.
An imaginative melding of a modern story with Balkan folk tales. A magical and intriguing debut.