“My grandfather never refers to the tiger’s wife by name. His arm is around me and my feet are on the handrail, and my grandfather might say, ‘I once knew a girl who loved tigers so much she almost became one herself.’ Because I am little, and my love of tigers comes directly from him, I believe he is talking about me, offering me a fairy tale in which I can imagine myself – and will, for years and years.”
The tale told to his granddaughter Natalia, is a sweeping narrative of war and humanity. Though most of the book, Natalia is an adult, a young doctor in a Balkan country recovering from war. Her grandfather’s mysterious disappearance and subsequent death, leads her on a journey which includes his fantastical stories of the deathless man and brings the past into the present.
I was duly impressed with Ms. Obreht’s first novel. Her examinations of fear, superstition and death were done so in a non-morbid and completely human fashion. In addition, I appreciated the author’s presentation of the Balkan people, their enchanting culture and her ability to portray a war without taking sides. Beautifully done.
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2011