The Tiger's Wife: A Novel

The Tiger's Wife - Téa Obreht The inescapable presence in the Balkans of war, of looming war, is one of the many layers interwoven into the young doctor Natalia's effort, by relaying the seemingly mythical stories recited in her youth, to understand the disappearance and death of her grandfather, himself something magical and lost in this world of ever-changing boundaries of country and birthright. Her grandfather's stories -- and therefore her own stories -- are half-human, half-magical creatures themselves, as surely mythical as they are violent, superstitious, and spoken of softly where they are spoken of at all. The effect is to create a world so ripe with loss and that the boughs of nationality are pulled down to a far more earthy existence, where woman and animal might mate, where man might transmogrify into animal, and where war might find in the streets of a nameless Balkan town, a silent tiger, or an elephant following scraps of food. Obrecht creates nostalgia and culture from these scraps or war, rich in description and so lucid as to make our shallow, factual, flavorless lives seem like dreams and the imaginings of this novel a world flush with health, and love, and blood.