When Natalia discovers that her beloved grandfather is dead, she is pained and mystified. Without a word to his family, her grandfather left home and never returned, dying alone in a remote village the family knew nothing of. Grandfather was a talented physician who should have recognized his physical limitations and perhaps the imminence of his death, so what drew him away from home at such a delicate time? As Natalia ponders the mystery and sets out to uncover where her grandfather went and why, she begins to remember the stories he told her growing up, stories about "the deathless man." Natalia is drawn deeper into her memories of her grandfather's stories, as she learns the history of her grandfather's childhood, a dark past that includes not only deathless men, but a woman married to a tiger and other fantastical characters.
As we follow Natalia on her journey through an unnamed war-ravaged Balkan state on the search for answers, we also delve deeply into the interstices between truth and fiction, sentiment and reason, superstition and fact. Could these stories be true or are they attempts to explain a harsh and brutal world? Obreht artfully draws these ambiguities across her novel, asking us to assess our own opinions of how storytelling impacts (and even shapes) history, and how we can think we understand a person until we realize, too late, that we know very little. This is a masterful achievement, at once a page-turner and a literary puzzler, that will haunt you long after you've turned the final page. The Tiger's Wife won the 2011 Orange Prize and was nominated for the National Book Award.
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