The Tiger’s Wife, by Tea Obreht
If anyone is looking for a great, innovative novel, I strongly suggest reading The Tiger’s Wife. And this is why:
I admire Obreht’s ability to color her novel with just the right doses of reality and fantasy, keeping both plausible in the mind of the reader to the world she creates. Obreht strategically withholds information to amplify the twists and reveals of the plot. This device is made all the more innovative when coupled with a non-linear structure that jumps around chronologically.
I was drawn to the conventional frame of the novel: A grandfather passing away, leaving his granddaughter Natalia with a recollection of stories in his wake. Yet, the narrative takes you to unpredictable places. What I love most is how the story is situated in the real world, with both Natalia and the grandfather navigating real locations to provide relief and medicine to impoverished villages. However, a quality of magical realism is introduced through elements in the grandfather’s stories and recounted travels. The “deathless man” and the titular “tiger’s wife” both possess certain supernatural characteristics that broaden and breach the ordinary parameters of the in-book world, otherwise indistinguishable from our own, and introduce a new dimension of possibilities and mythological scope to the narrative.
The Tiger’s Wife is a fantastic novel containing an innovative structure with clear, careful, and beautifully concise prose, with a story that engages the heart of the reader.
I get the pleasure of meeting and listening to Miss Tea Obreht read parts of the The Tiger’s Wife sometime in April at Mahanttanville College.
© Brittany DiGiacomo 2014