I never know about award winning novels: on the one hand, the awards occasionally introduce me to amazing novels I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise but sometimes their opinions and mine just don’t mesh. That is somewhat the case when it comes to The Tiger’s Wife. Tea Obreht is originally from Serbia, one of the countries that was once part of Yugoslavia, before war and bloodshed. Her novel deals with war, conflict, ethnic differences, and tells the story of coming of age in an unnamed war torn city. And while I feel like I should care about this, I had a hard time actually feeling that way. I felt too distant from the narrator, Natalia, to truly care what was going on with her specifically. At the beginning of the novel, she is enroute to give vaccines to children in an orphanage when she finds out that her grandfather has died in a random village, confusing his family. Though accompanied by her best friend, she keeps the information to herself and seems rather numb. For the rest of the novel, she reflects on her childhood, growing up with her mom and grandparents, the war, and the stories her grandfather used to tell as well as the stories of her grandfather she learned later in life.
It might be obvious by now that lately I’ve been partial to young writers. Karen Russell is a favorite, and Dave Eggers is an obsession (though he’s not that young anymore). I heard about this book a year ago, and put it off for awhile. I’m now kicking myself for that. The Tiger’s Wife is one of the best, most unique, breathtaking books I’ve read in a long time. Téa Obreht brings even more prestige to this seemingly overflowing talent pool of young fiction writers.
Check out the rest of this accidentally long review over here: benmitchelllewis.com
Even though I’m off to a slow-ish start for this year’s CBR, I absolutely loved my first read. I received The Tiger’s Wife over a year ago as a Christmas present, and brought it with me when I moved, so I might be more motivated to read it. Not even all the way through the first chapter, I was already in love with the book. The story follows Natalia, a young doctor in the present day Balkans, as she goes to a tiny village to administer vaccines. Although I don’t know much about the wars in the former Yugoslavia, the novel is saturated with the imagery of war and its aftereffects. I can’t really recommend this book enough, and I’m struggling for the right words to describe how much I loved this story, but check out the rest of my review on my blog!