Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

2011 Women's Prize for Fiction Winner

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht


Publisher: Weidenfield & Nicholson

Length: 352 pages

About: Grandfather's death partially explained by escaped tiger

Style: 1st & 3rd person

Where: US and the Balkans

When: 1940s & 1990s



Publisher’s synopsis:

In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife.





 Then the tone of her voice changed. She was suspicious, my grandma, of why I wasn’t crying, why I wasn’t hysterical. For the first ten minutes of our conversation, she had probably allowed herself to believe that my calm was the result of my being in a foreign hospital, on assignment, surrounded, perhaps, by colleagues. She would have challenged me a lot sooner if she had known that I was hiding in the border-stop bathroom so that Zóra wouldn’t overhear.

She said, “Haven’t you got anything to say?”

“I just don’t know, Bako. Why would he lie about coming to see me?”

“You haven’t asked if it was an accident,” she said. “Why haven’t you asked that? Why haven’t you asked how he died?”

“I didn’t even know he had left home,” I said. “I didn’t know any of this was going on.”

“You’re not crying,” she said.

“Neither are you.”        





What makes The Tiger’s Wife so special is that it has nothing to do with the typical immigrant memoir or the thinly disguised autobiographical novel. Obreht, who was seven when she left Belgrade in 1992 with her mother and her grandparents to escape the wars in Yugoslavia, and who lived both in Cyprus and in Cairo before coming to the US, writes about events in her homeland that she did not experience firsthand and about a cast of fictional characters. Her novel takes place in an unnamed country in the Balkans, in towns and villages with names that cannot be found on any map and with geography so confusing that even a native of the region will have a hard time trying to guess where some of the key events are taking place.

The New York Review of Books, Charles Simic, 26th May 2011


Not so good:

Some patches are lavish to the point of being overwritten and Obreht’s images are not always original (the sea flashing “like a knife”). But 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 places: the retreat of the spirits.

The Daily Telegraph Lucy Daniel 10th March 2011


About the author

Téa Obreht was born in autumn 1985, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, where she lived with her mother and her maternal grandparents until 1992. When the Yugoslav Wars started, Obreht and her family moved to Cyprus and later to Cairo, Egypt, guided by her grandfather's job. Her grandparents returned to live in Belgrade in 1997, while she and her mother settled in the United States, first in Atlanta, and later in Palo Alto, California. Obreht's grandfather died in 2006 and on his deathbed asked her to write under his surname, Obreht.



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2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

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