Book by TÉA OBREHT
For most of us, the war and subsequent breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s conjures memories of shaky news footage and the echoes of faraway landmine explosions. For the narrator of The Tiger’s Wife, a young doctor who grew up during the seemingly endless violence, those years were her childhood, defined not by what was lost, but by the simple ritual she shared with her grandfather: visiting the tiger at the zoo.
Author Téa Obreht infuses her first novel with everydayness, what people who haven’t lived through a war might call survival. The novel opens in the present with the news of Natalia’s grandfather’s sudden death. On her way to an aid mission at an orphanage across the border, Natalia receives a page from her grandmother with the news, and an accusation: “He was going to meet you.” But Natalia hadn’t heard from him and didn’t know anything about the supposed plan to meet, so the news comes as a double loss—grief, confusion, and a sense of betrayal. Where was her grandfather going and why did he lie?