Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Tiger's Wife

“In my earliest memory, my grandfather is bald as a stone
and he takes me to see the tigers.”

The Tiger’s Wife

When I was twenty-five I knew that the world was round. I could make a pie crust from scratch, balance a checkbook and give a dog a pill without assistance. I was confident, self-assured, and oblivious. Rather than the more empathetic world of grey in which I live today, I ran around in a black and white land where my unseasoned ideas wrapped themselves comfortably round a framework enfeebled by lack of experience. When I was twenty-five, any wisdom afforded me by my childhood years was still simmering on the back burner of my life. It would not fully nourish my days till at least another ten years or so. Contrast my narrative with that of twenty-five year old Tea Obreht. She has just published her first novel to rave reviews, which is not in and of itself such an unusual thing for someone that age. What is, in my opinion, both unusual and unexpected, is that this novel is not only lyrical, but full of the sort of wisdom usually reserved for a writer much further along on the journey through life.

The Tiger’s Wife has been compared to the work of both Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Michael Ondaatje, and that is not bad company to keep. I can certainly see the resemblance, but in spite of her youth, or perhaps because of it, Ms. Obreht has harnessed an unique voice that is utterly her own. Set somewhere in the Balkans against a backdrop of war, The Tiger’s Wife gathers up the threads of fable and folklore, allegory and realism, and entwines them into a tapestry where their colours circle seamlessly from myth into truth, weaving the two together so tightly it is soon evident that the whole cloth of history cannot exist without both.

There are moments in this book so beautiful they practically beseech the reader to read them several times over before continuing on. Follow an old man and his grand-daughter through the vacant midnight streets of a city at war to witness an extraordinary sight. (I won’t divulge what they see here, to preserve the delight for those yet to read it.) When the grand-daughter exclaims that “none of her friends will ever believe this”, she hears this in response,

“You must be joking,” her grandfather replies, rebuking her: “The story of this war — dates, names, who started it, why — that belongs to everyone. Not just the people involved in it, but the people who write newspapers, politicians thousands of miles away, people who’ve never even been here or heard of it before. But something like this — this is yours. It belongs only to you. And me. . . . You have to think carefully about where you tell it, and to whom. Who deserves to hear it?”

I know exactly what he means. There are some sights so extraordinary that you feel the need to hold them close, to keep their magic tight in your heart till it becomes part of the very breath of your spirit, altering your perspective and enhancing your days. I thought about holding The Tiger’s Wife close just like this, turning its magical stories over and over like a piece of shiny sea glass brought home from an empty beach.
But I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.


Don't forget to enter the poetry giveaway below.
Drawing is Sunday 15th, at midnight.
Good Luck!


  1. Read about this on several blogs specially after its nomination. Sounds so good.

  2. Thanks for the super review. I'm going to download it this afternoon. I lived in the Balkans for two years and look forward to a delicious read!!

  3. Pamela,
    I agree. It is such a rare and amazing thing when you do come across a twentysomething that has that rare maturity and insight of the complexities of life. I will have to put this on my book list!

  4. Hello Pamela

    I have this book on hold at my library. Must be a great read, because I am number 17. Thanks for a great review.

    Have a great week end.

    Tracy :)

  5. Sounds like an interesting read.

    Somehow I find internalized knowledge the most difficul to share. It is like being poked to give away one's secrets.

  6. I've been looking forward to your review and am pleased to see that we both enjoyed Tiger's Wife. Very well said and a fine illustration too.

  7. I have been reading lots of great things about this book Pamela. Your comments have sealed it for me. I am going to have to get this one! You got me on sea glass
    brought home from an empty beach. The message became crystal clear with that comment alone.

    Thank you :)

    Jeanne xxx

  8. Sounds like a must-read! Off to library I go!

  9. Just yesterday I added this book to my ever growing must read list.... This and a few others I found noteworthy!!
    I guess we share a few common threads of life!
    Your review is so lovely and well written...
    You have great style!
    Happy Sunday, dear Pamela!

  10. Oh, this sounds wonderful! I'm headed to Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Hungary and Slovakia this year so must download this book for reading while on the road.

  11. Sounds like an excellent book ,thanks for the recommendation!

  12. Shucks can't do the down load today. Sounds so interesting.

  13. Lovely. I'm adding this to my library list. Thank you.

  14. Thanks so much for recommending this book.....it's another one that will go on the list. XXXX

  15. Thanks for sharing this. I am intrigued and will have to look out for this book. :)

  16. looking forward to another one of your fine book selections. anything you like I’m sure to also...

  17. I love your book selections Pamela....I shall enjoy this one, I know....xv

  18. Ooh! This sounds wonderful! Thanks for such a beautiful recommendation! C x

  19. Pamela, your comment alone: "There are moments in this book so beautiful they practically beseech the reader to read them several times over before continuing on..." makes me want to go and find this book right away :-)

  20. this does indeed sound excellent- I will look it up now

  21. Sounds like a great read~ I'm off to see if it's on itunes yet...?

  22. Now this is a book I would love to read! Must go get it today! Thanks for the review, Pamela.

  23. I so agree. Such an amazing accomplishment for a 25 year old! When I looked at her author's pic at the back of the book, I just gasped.


I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!