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As Natalia and a friend travel across the former Yugoslavia, immunising villagers, the body of her grandfather turns up in a hospital in the middle of nowhere. She and her family have no idea why.

Recalling stories he told her as a child, she becomes convinced that he went in search of the Deathless Man, a mythical figure, that her grandfather claimed to have met a number of times in his life.

In her quest to find out how her grandfather, a man of hard fact and science, could turn to this fantasy, she discovers something particular about his childhood: a tiger escaped from a zoo during World War II bombings and wandered deep into the woods, settling just outside his peasant village. It terrorised the town, the devil incarnate to everyone, except for her grandfather and ‘the tiger’s wife’…

Read by Robin Sachs and Susan Duerden

(p) 2011 Penguin Random House LLC

Reviews

This astounding debut novel about the former Yugoslavia in wartime is so rich with themes of love, legends and mortality that every novel that comes after it this year is in peril of falling short in comparison with its uncanny beauty...Not since Zadie Smith has a young writer arrived with such power and grace
Time
A spectacular debut and a truly enchanting novel.
THE GUARDIAN
Obreht's novel is that rarity: a debut that arrives fully formed, super smart but wearing its learning lightly. Above all The Tiger's Wife bristles with confidence
Adrian Turpin, Financial Times
The brilliant black comedy and matryoshka-style narrative are among the novel's great joys...Obreht has prodigious talent for storytelling and imagery
Guardian
Beautifully executed, haunting and lyrical, The Tiger's Wife is an ambitious novel that succeeds on all counts. It's a book you will want to read again and again
Indpendent
Obreht's landscape hovers half in and half out of fable - where villagers who daily risk being hoisted by landmines also fear malign spirits, tigers' brides and men who transform into bears... It's a part of the world that Obreht has made her imagination's own: raucous and strange and gorgeous and rather haunting. This is a pretty formidable first novel. Here be tigers
Sam Leith, Financial Times
She is a natural born storyteller and this is a startlingly suggestive novel about the dying out of myths and superstitions and rituals that bind people to place: the retreat of the spirits
Daily Telegraph
This is a distinguished work by almost any standard, and a genuinely exciting debut... Obreht has a vibrant, rangy, full-bodied prose style, which moves expertly between realistic and mythic modes of storytelling, conjuring brilliant images on every page... a delightful work, as enchanting as it is surprising, and Obreht is a compelling new voice
Sunday Times
The Tiger's Wife has been touted as one of 2011's outstanding debuts and it deserves its reputation...Weaving together fantastical tales and folklore with realism about coming to terms with loss and grief, it is also a book about the secrets people keep. This layering of stories creates a book rich in textures. Combining a mystery narrative, a family narrative and a book about the worlds of the imagination, Téa Obreht's novel is one that allows the reader to get lost in them
Metro
The Tiger's Wife, is assured, eloquent and not easily forgotten...war is just a backdrop, religions barely identified. It is the tiger, the deathless man, and the inquisitive doctor who lead the story through its layers of modern-day reality, magical realism, and folklore...her pacing in the book is delicious - Obreht has the storyteller's gift for suspense, and holds back details until the reader can wait no more...she has lived up to the early hype
Independent on Sunday
Natalia, a young doctor, is on her way to deliver aid to a remote orphanage when she discovers her beloved grandfather is dead. As she tries to reconstruct her grandfather's last journey, she recalls his stories, which combine folklore and mystery with his exquisite humanity. Set in a Balkan country adjusting to life after the war, the book resonates with the aftershocks of conflict, old enmities, fatalism and superstition. Haunting, thoughtful and beautifully atmospheric
Psychologies
Varied, poignant and beguilingly fantastical...The Tiger's Wife is an exciting, fast-paced and mystical novel that'll have you rushing to the end
Time Out
Spellbinding... Téa Obreht's debut has the fantastical allure of a folk fable
Marie Claire
Téa Obreht's stunning debut novel, The Tiger's Wife, is a hugely ambitious, audaciously written work that provides an indelible picture of life in an unnamed Balkan country still reeling from the fallout of civil war... Ms. Obreht, who was born in the former Yugoslavia and is, astonishingly, only 25, writes with remarkable authority and eloquence... Ms. Obreht has not only made a precocious debut, but she has also written a richly textured and searing novel
New York Times
Téa Obreht is an extraordinarily talented writer...brings to mind the novels of Mikhail Bulgakov...[a] truly marvellous and memorable first novel
New York Review of Books
Téa Obreht's The Tiger's Wife comes freighted with more critical anticipation than any debut novel in recent memory...That sort of unearned, pre-emptive prestige spurs both impossible expectations and skeptical readings - a burden that would doom most first novels. Yet The Tiger's Wife, in its solemn beauty and unerring execution, fully justifies the accolades that Ms. Obreht's short fiction inspired. She has a talent for subtle plotting that eludes most writers twice her age, and her descriptive powers suggest a kind of channeled genius. No novel this year has seemed more likely to disappoint; no novel has been more satisfying
Wall Street Journal
Tea Obreht's swirling first novel, The Tiger's Wife, draws us beneath the clotted tragedies in the Balkans to deliver the kind of truth that histories can't touch. Born in Belgrade in 1985 - no, that's not a typo - she captures the thirst for consecration that a century of war has left in that bloody part of the world. It's a novel of enormous ambitions that manages in its modest length to contain the conflicts between Christians and Muslims, Turks and Ottomans, science and superstition... Well-deserved praise has been accumulating ever since Obreht published a chapter in the New Yorker almost two years ago, and now that we have the whole, its graceful commingling of contemporary realism and village legend seems even more absorbing
Washington Post
Astonishingly assured...full of vivid, dreamlike sequence...Obreht's mesmerizing writing is key to the novel, which succeeds through a kind of harmonic resonance...Obreht's striking ability to explain the world through stories is matched by her patience with the parts of life - and death - that endlessly confound us
Boston Globe
Deftly walks the line between the realistic and the fantastical . . . In Obreht's expert hands, the novel's mythology, while rooted in a foreign world, comes to seem somehow familiar, like the dark fairy tales of our own youth, the kind that spooked us into reading them again and again . . . [Reveals] oddly comforting truths about death, belief in the impossible, and the art of letting go
O: The Oprah Magazine