The Tiger's Wife

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The Tiger's Wife
The Tiger's Wife (Obreht novel) cover art.jpg
Front cover of US edition
AuthorTéa Obreht
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
PublisherWeidenfeld & Nicolson[1]
Random House (US)
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardcover), audiobook, eBook
Pages337 (first edition)
LC ClassPS3615.B73 T54 2011[2]

The Tiger's Wife is the debut novel of Serbian-American writer Téa Obreht. It was published in 2011 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, a British imprint of Orion Books, and by Random House in America.[1] Obreht won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction for The Tiger's Wife.[3] Obreht was the youngest winner of the prize to date, winning at age 25.[3]


The Tiger's Wife is set in an unnamed Balkan country, spanning the mid 20th-century to the early 21st century. It features a young doctor's relationship with her grandfather and the stories he tells her. Her grandfather retells stories about the 'deathless man' who meets him several times in different places and who doesn't die, regardless of the danger he faces; and a deaf-mute girl from his childhood village who befriends a tiger that has escaped from a nearby zoo.


The novel was largely written while Obreht was attending Cornell University.[4] Portions of the novel were excerpted in The New Yorker in June 2009.[5] When Obreht was asked to summarize the story by a university journalist, she 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."[6]


The poet Charles Simic wrote in The New York Review of Books that The Tiger's Wife "is a remarkable first novel". Simic 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."[7] A review in the New Zealand Herald notes that, "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'."[8] New York Times reviewer Liesl Schillinger praised the novel, asserting that it was "filled with astonishing immediacy and presence, fleshed out with detail that seems firsthand."[9]

The Tiger's Wife won the 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, Obreht was the youngest winner of the Orange Prize at the time of her award.[10][11]

In 2011 Obreht was also a finalist for the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction[12] and the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize for English-language writers age 18 to 30.[13]


  1. ^ a b Formats and Editions of Tiger's wife". WorldCat. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  2. ^ "Tiger's wife" (US edition). Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Orange prize 2011 goes to Téa Obreht". the Guardian. 2011-06-08. Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  4. ^ Flanagan, Mark. "Tea Obreht". Contemporary Literature. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  5. ^ Lee, Stephan (4 March 2011). "Téa Obreht, author of 'The Tiger's Wife,' on craft, age, and early success" (interview). Entertainment Weekly. 4 March 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  6. ^ Hamilton, Ted (25 March 2009). "Student Artist Spotlight: Tea Bajraktarevic" (interview). Cornell Daily Sun. Archived 7 March 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  7. ^ Simic, Charles (26 May 2011). "The Weird Beauty of the Well-Told Tale". NYRB ( Retrieved 10 May 2011.
  8. ^ Sheehy, Christine (6 May 2011). "Fiction Addiction: Introducing The Tiger's Wife". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
  9. ^ Schillinger, Liesl (11 March 2011). "A Mythic Novel of the Balkan Wars". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 March 2011.
  10. ^ "Téa Obreht wins 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction" (2011 archive, contemporary). Orange Prize for Fiction ( Archived 10 February 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  11. ^ "2011 Winner: Tea Obreht" (2011 archive, current sponsor). Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction ( Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  12. ^ "National Book Awards – 2011". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  13. ^ "Dylan Thomas Prize 2011 shortlist is announced". BBC News. 20 October 2011. Archived from the original on 30 December 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2011.