Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

by:  Tea Obreht
published by:  Random House
publish date:  March 8, 2011

In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife.

This book has recieved a lot of high praise.  It has been named a Finalist for the 2011 National Book Award, Winner of the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction, and one of the New York Book Review's Top 10 of 2011.   All this praise is what drew me to this book.  Otherwise, I might have skipped this one.

First off, I listened to the audiobook, and if you like audiobooks, this one is fantastic.  I particularly like audiobooks when there are a lot of foriegn names of places and people, I don't get bogged down with trying to pronounce them when someone else does it for me.  Robin Sachs narrates the parts that are told by the grandfather.  He's one of my favorites. 

As for the book itself, I really liked the grandfather's stories.  I loved the story of the deathless man.  Some of them had me laughing out loud.  The story of the tiger's wife was interesting as well.  However, I wasn't sure (and I'm still not) how they tied together.  I kept waiting for some kind of big reveal that never came.  I thought perhaps when the life story of the apothecary was being detailed that something monumental was going to come out of that and then it didn't.

So, I liked the stories within the story, but I didn't completely understand the story as a whole.  I didn't understand what exactly Natalia was looking for.   Plus, I felt kind of bewildered about where all this was taking place, and when, and what war, and what were the sides and why were they fighting?  I thought I was being the ignorant American here, but after reading a lot of reviews I wasn't the only one having the problem with not understanding all this.

Maybe I can find a study guide out there and help me more sense of it, because I found a lot of it to be amazingly awesome.  I would love to know what you think of it if you've read it.


Cherry said...

My guess is, that all those people who gave this book all those awards never really read this book.

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

If I need a study guide! I think I'll have to pass. I think that there a lot of reasons books get awards and some of them have nothing to do with how enjoyable the book is.

Unknown said...

This is a superb piece of literature. Exquisitely written, and built around astounding story-telling. It adds richness to all we know about growing up, families, community life, literature in life, vocation, culture. Website