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The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
The Tiger's Wife
“We had an old map, which we kept in the car years after it had become completely inaccurate….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.”
Tea Obreht’s brave and exhilarating novel wraps itself in and around the tormented European geography in which it is situated.
A seamlessly crafted book, The Tiger’s Wife is the story of an old man, recounted by his granddaughter.
It is a novel of intricate and interwoven stories, from the present and the past, rich in detail and nuance, magical and instructive, featuring heroes and villains and wild animals and a man who cannot die, but the truth at the heart of the novel is always in the day to day interactions and realities that are so easy to overlook; the runny nose, the parrot, the bathroom attendant. Life goes on, even in the shadow of incessant and irreconcilable conflict.
Grand ideas battle small-minded exigencies, noble aspirations contend with habituated, fear-fed prejudices.
Obreht is a writer of great skill as well as imagination. The Tiger’s Wife is a cornucopia of wonderfully conceived and brilliantly executed storytelling. But despite the almost overwhelming accumulation of story, Obreht leaves much to the reader.
This novel is packed with trenchant observations, casually noted. It brims with odd incident and carefully drawn characters. The writing is spectacular. So easy is it to get absorbed by the seductive magic of the narrative that the sharp edge at the heart of the book can come as a surprise.
This is an unforgettable novel from writer wise beyond her years. Its accomplishments are many; its message of great import.
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