- Publisher: WEIDENFELD & NICOLSON
- Format: Paperback | 352 pages
- Dimensions: 152mm x 230mm x 28mm | 458g
- Publication date: 3 March 2011
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0297859021
- ISBN 13: 9780297859024
- Edition statement: Trade Paperback.
- Sales rank: 59,499
The Orange Prize winning debut from a truly extraordinary talent. 'Having sifted through everything I have heard about the tiger and his wife, I can tell you that this much is fact: in April of 1941, without declaration or warning, the German bombs started falling over the city and did not stop for three days. The tiger did not know that they were bombs...' A tiger escapes from the local zoo, padding through the ruined streets and onwards, to a ridge above the Balkan village of Galina. His nocturnal visits hold the villagers in a terrified thrall. But for one boy, the tiger is a thing of magic - Shere Khan awoken from the pages of The Jungle Book. Natalia is the granddaughter of that boy. Now a doctor, she is visiting orphanages after another war has devastated the Balkans. On this journey, she receives word of her beloved grandfather's death, far from their home, in circumstances shrouded in mystery. From fragments of stories her grandfather told her as a child, Natalia realises he may have died searching for 'the deathless man', a vagabond who was said to be immortal. Struggling to understand why a man of science would undertake such a quest, she stumbles upon a clue that will lead her to a tattered copy of The Jungle Book, and then to the extraordinary story of the tiger's wife.
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Tea Obreht was born in 1985 in the former Yugoslavia, emigrating to the US in 1997. She was the youngest author on The New Yorker's Top 20 Writers under 40 List, and one of the youngest authors ever to be extracted in the magazine. Her short story, 'The Laugh', debuted in The Atlantic Fiction Issue and was then chosen for The Best American Short Stories 2010, while her short story, 'The Sentry' appeared in the Guardian Summer Fiction Issue alongside stories by Hilary Mantel and David Mitchell. She lives in New York.
By D Putri 21 Apr 2011
This is an incredible book. Obreht masterfully delivers an interplay between past and present, myth and reality to tell the story of war and death. But this isn't a dissection of history and politics; rather, it is a brilliant exploration of past enmities and personal relationships to war and death.
Dr Natalia Stefanovic was on her way to a remote village on the borders of her Balkan country to perform voluntary public health service when she received news of her grandfather's death. Despite his ailment, the circumstances around Natalia's grandfather's death, in a small clinic in a remote border town, remain shrouded in mystery.
Natalia and her grandfather shared a special bond, and in coming to terms with her grief and her efforts to seek closure, she explored the past, as she recalls memories of their togetherness and traced back stories her grandfather's youth.
The book took me to the charming countrysides and border villages of present Serbia as well as the Old Kingdom and introduced me to colourful, bigger-than-life characters whose personal stories venture deeper and deeper into the realm of the supernatural as the plot progressed.
Myths, superstitions, hearsays blurred the borders between the rational and the imagined in the book, serving as allegories that perfectly conveyed the abstract without the banality of mentioning them directly: the lingering fear of death, the searing pain of loss, the thirst for revenge, the longing for closure.
Needless ro say, the storytelling is enchanting and gripping. I finished the book in just under three days despite of assignments and a pile of housework; the lack of sleep was a prize worth paying.
When I finally put the book down, I was left with a little sense of reality, as many things were left unanswered. Yet this is where Obreht once again proves her brilliance. The ending nailed if for me as it gave me a clear sense of the emotions that prevailed. And those feelings were centered around a sense of closure to fear and grief that had endured over a lifetime. And this gave me, too, a sense of closure.