Téa Obreht

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Téa Obreht
Téa Obreht 2014.jpg
Obreht at Pen America/Free Expression Literature, May 2014.
Born Tea Bajraktarević
(1985-09-30) 30 September 1985 (age 31)
Belgrade, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia
Occupation Fiction writer
Genre Novels, short stories
Notable works The Tiger's Wife
Notable awards Orange Prize

Téa Obreht (born Tea Bajraktarević; 30 September 1985) is a Serbian-American novelist.[1][2][3] She won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2011 for The Tiger's Wife, her debut novel.[4][5]


Téa Obreht was born as Tea Bajraktarević in the autumn of 1985, in Belgrade, SR Serbia, SFR Yugoslavia as the only child of a single mother, Maja,[6][7] while her father, a Bosnian muslim,[8] was "never part of the picture."[7] Because of the lack of a father figure she was close to her maternal grandparents, especially to grandfather Štefan,[6][7] a Slovene of German origin,[7] and grandmother Zahida, a Bosnian muslim.[6] When the Yugoslav Wars started in the early 1990s, although there was no fighting in her hometown of Belgrade nor in Serbia, there was concern due to her grandparents religions. Their religions, Roman Catholic and Muslim, were closely associated with Croatia and Bosnia, respectively, which was a serious distinction at the time of the war.[6] They didn't flee,[6] but decided to move to Cyprus for precautionary reasons when her mother found a job there.[6] 18 months later they moved to Cairo, Egypt, guided by her grandfather's job as an aviation engineer. Her grandparents permanently returned to Belgrade in 1997, while she and her mother settled in the United States, first in Atlanta where they joined extended family,[6] and later in Palo Alto, California,[8][9] where her mother remarried[6] to a Serbian Orthodox man.[10] Obreht's grandfather died in 2006 and on his deathbed asked her to write under his surname, Obreht.[6][7][8] She later decided to also legally change her last name.[6] After graduating from the University of Southern California,[11] Obreht received a MFA in fiction from the creative writing program at Cornell University in 2009.[12] She currently lives in Ithaca, New York. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Zoetrope: All-Story, Harpers, The New York Times and The Guardian, and in story anthologies.[13][14]

Among many influences, Obreht has mentioned in press interviews the Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez, the Yugoslav Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andrić, Raymond Chandler, Ernest Hemingway, Isak Dinesen, Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov, and the children's writer Roald Dahl.[15]

In October 2011, Obreht was a special guest at a charity lunch organized by Lifeline Humanitarian Organization in New York under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Katherine Karađorđević to aid children without parents in Serbia. Obreht participated by auctioning off a private lecture by her at a book club.[16][17]

The Tiger's Wife[edit]

Main article: The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger's Wife was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 2010.[18] It is a novel set in an unnamed Balkan country, in the present and half a century ago, and features a young doctor's relationship with her grandfather and the stories he tells her. These concern a "deathless man" who meets him several times in different places and never grows old, and a deaf-mute girl from his childhood village who befriends a tiger that escaped from a zoo. It was largely written while she was at Cornell,[19] and excerpted in The New Yorker in June 2009.[20] Asked to summarize it by a university journalist, Obreht replied, "It's a family saga that takes place in a fictionalized province of the Balkans. It's about a female narrator and her relationship to her grandfather, who's a doctor. It's a saga about doctors and their relationships to death throughout all these wars in the Balkans."[5]

The Tiger's Wife won the British Orange Prize for Fiction in 2011 (for 2010 publications). Obreht was the youngest winner of the annual prize (established 1996), which recognizes "excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing from throughout the world".[21] Late in 2011 she was a finalist for that year's U.S. National Book Award for Fiction.[22]



Short Stories[edit]

  • "The Laugh", The Atlantic, Fiction Issue (August 2009)
  • "The Sentry", The Guardian, Summer Short Story Special (Summer 2010)

Nonfiction & Essays[edit]

  • "Twilight of The Vampires: Hunting the Real-Life Undead", Harper's Magazine (November 2010)


  1. ^ Ward, Victoria (8 June 2011). "Orange Prize won by relative unknown Téa Obreht". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 October 2016. 
  2. ^ "Orange Prize for Fiction awarded to Tea Obreht". BBC. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2016. 
  3. ^ "Serbian-American author wins Orange". The Irish Times. 9 June 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2016. 
  4. ^ Schillinger, Liesl (11 March 2011). "A Mythic Novel of the Balkan Wars". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Hamilton, Ted (25 March 2009). "Student Artist Spotlight: Tea Bajraktarevic" (interview). Cornell Daily Sun. Archived 7 March 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Tucker, Neely (29 December 2011). "Tea Obreht, author of 'Tiger's Wife,' is on many year-end best-of lists". The Washington Post. Retrieved 19 October 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Teeman, Tim (2 April 2011). "Do I deserve this success? I don't know" (PDF). The Times. Retrieved 19 October 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c Lo Dico, Joy (9 June 2011). "Orange winner's novel could heal the wounds of war-torn Serbia". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  9. ^ Yabroff, Jennie (9 March 2011). "A Fierce Debut" (interview). The Daily Beast. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  10. ^ Shephard, Alex (3 January 2012). "Téa Obreht Interview". Full Stop. Retrieved 19 October 2016. 
  11. ^ McGrath, Charles (14 March 2011). "'The Tiger's Wife' Brings Téa Obreht Acclaim". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 March 2011. 
  12. ^ Minzesheimer, Bob (10 March 2011). "New Voices: Tea Obreht, The Tiger's Wife". USA Today. Retrieved 11 March 2011. 
  13. ^ "20 Under 40 Q.&A.: Téa Obreht" (interview). The New Yorker. June 14, 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  14. ^ "Biography". Téa Obreht (teaobreht.com). Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  15. ^ Codinha, Cotton (20 July 2009). "I Dreamed of Africa" (interview). The Atlantic. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  16. ^ October 2011. Izvodi iz štampe / Press Clipping. royalfamily.org.
  17. ^ Mijatović, Marija (13 October 2011). "Tea Obreht gošća kod Karađorđevića". Blic (in Serbian). Retrieved 19 October 2016. 
  18. ^ "Tiger's wife". WorldCat. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
    "View all editions and formats" shows that others were published 2011 and later.
  19. ^ Flanagan, Mark. "Tea Obreht". Contemporary Literature. About.com. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  20. ^ Lee, Stephan (4 March 2011). "Téa Obreht, author of 'The Tiger's Wife', on craft, age, and early success" (interview). Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  21. ^ "Téa Obreht wins 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction" (2011 archive, contemporary). Orange Prize for Fiction (orangeprize.co.uk). Archived 10 February 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  22. ^ "National Book Awards – 2011". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 12 April 2014. Contemporary archive including video record of Obreht reading from The Tiger's Wife.

External links[edit]