The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'd held off reading this until I had a chunk of uninterrupted reading time and I'm so glad I did - what a wonderful book!
Set in the relative present, we follow Natalia as she is on a humanitarian mission to inoculate some orphans on the "other side" of a Balkan border. While on her way, she learns that her beloved grandfather has died, having left their home claiming he is heading to help her - but she knew nothing about this and he didn't die in a town she's ever heard of. For her grandmother, the worst part is that his belongings and body won't have the traditional 40 days in which to keep his soul tied down.
In between this story, we hear flashbacks to Natalia's early life and to formative stories from her grandfather's life. The first is the story of the tiger's wife, a deaf-mute child bride of a wife batterer from his childhood village. The second is of his meeting with the deathless man. Are these people real? Are they just stories a grandfather tells his daughter?
The writing makes these stories come alive in ways that reminds me of Davies and Barnes and Tartt's Secret History- I'm really looking forward to the next book.
ARC provided by publisher.
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