The Tiger's Wife
||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (February 2014)|
Front cover of US edition
|Publisher||Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Random House (US)
|Media type||Print (hardcover), audiobook, eBook|
|Pages||337 (first edition)|
|LC Class||PS3615.B73 T54 2011|
The Tiger's Wife is 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, primarily about the 'deathless man' who meets him several times in different places and never changes, and a deaf-mute girl from his childhood village who befriends a tiger that has escaped from a zoo. It was largely written while she was at Cornell, and excerpted in The New Yorker in June 2009. 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."
The press reception has been good. The poet Charles Simic wrote in The New York Review of Books giving his endorsement to the view that "this is a remarkable first novel." He went on to say: "Téa Obreht is an extraordinarily talented writer, skilled at combining different types of narrative — from objective depiction of events to stories mixing the fabulous and the real — in a way that brings to mind the novels of Mikhail Bulgakov, Gabriel García Márquez, and Milorad Pavić, the Serbian author of Dictionary of the Khazars. According to the New Zealand Herald, "Reviewers have praised Obreht's vibrant imagery and skilful interweaving of fact and folklore, ritual and superstition. British paper the Sunday Times dubbed her 'a compelling new voice'; its rival the Daily Telegraph 'a natural born storyteller'." New York Times reviewer Liesl Schillinger praised the novel, saying it was "filled with astonishing immediacy and presence, fleshed out with detail that seems firsthand."
The Tiger's Wife won the prestigious British Orange Prize for Fiction in 2011. The annual prize, recognising "excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing from throughout the world", then included £30,000 cash and the "Bessie", a limited edition bronze figurine. At 25 years, 9 months when the prize was announced, Obreht was the youngest winner (1996–2012).
Late in 2011 Obreht was a finalist for the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction and the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize for English-language writers age 18 to 30. The Tiger's Wife was a New York Times Bestseller that year.
- Tea Bajraktarevic (her real name) was interviewed by the Cornell Daily Sun in March 2009, then a 23-year-old graduate of its MFA Creative Writing program. According to the interview preface, she had "recently sold the rights to her first novel The Tiger's Daughter [sic] to Dial Press (to be published next year)". Dial is and was one imprint of Random House, USA, but the novel was not released by RH until March 2011, evidently not by the Dial imprint.
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