The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

The Tiger’s Wife

By Tea Obreht
Trade Paperback
Pages: 368 pages
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: 01/11/11
ISBN: 0385343841


The forty days of the soul begin on the morning after death. That first night, before its forty days begin, the soul lies still against sweated-on pillows and watches the living fold the hands and close the eyes, choke the room with smoke and silence to keep the new soul from the doors and the windows and the cracks in the floor so that it does not run out of the house like a river. The living know that, at daybreak, the soul will leave them and make its way to the places of its past — the schools and dormitories of its youth, army barracks and tenements, houses razed to the ground and rebuilt, places that recall love and guilt, difficulties and unbridled happiness, optimism and ecstasy, memories of grace meaningless to anyone else — and sometimes this journey will carry it so far for so long that it will forget to come back. For this reason, the living bring their own rituals to a standstill: to welcome the newly loosed spirit, the living will not clean, will not wash or tidy, will not remove the soul’s belongings for forty days, hoping that sentiment and longing will bring it home again, encourage it to return with a message, with a sign, or with forgiveness.

As a book reviewer, I’ve read many novels that were easy to write about, easy to critique or praise because they’re definable and have recognizable strengths and weaknesses. I’ve read several novels that I enjoyed so little that I felt the reviewing them would add little to the overall genre discussion beyond some shit slinging. I’d sit at my keyboard, trying to formulate a balanced, constructive argument for and against the work, and stumble again and again. And then there are novels on the knife’s edge of perfection, that are so joyous and heartrending that to speculate on them, no matter how effusively, would be to mar their beauty. Stardust by Neil Gaiman is one such novel for me. The Tiger’s Wife is another. There’s magic in this novel and I recommend it with every ounce of my passion for literature.

  • sqt December 21, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I’ve been wondering if this was good. Definitely one to bump up on the TBR list.

  • Justin December 21, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Echoed Aidan. I will be writing a long form review soon and a little scared by it.

  • Daniel Abraham December 21, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Can’t pass on a review like that. I’ll go get a copy.

  • Biblibio December 22, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Even though there were aspects I disliked, I have to admit that the glorious subtleties of The Tiger’s Wife got to me. I was almost sad when the book ended, rather hoping that it would go on for a bit longer. While I may not praise it quite as highly as you, you’re absolutely right that this is a magical book, and one well worth recommending.

  • Elaine December 23, 2011 at 9:45 am

    I’m just curious. You say that there are aspects you didn’t like about it The Tiger’s Wife,/i>. Could you please expand?

    Elaine Sangiolo
    Book Marketing Manager:
    Cathedral of Dreams,/i> by Terry Persun and ,i>A Kingdom’s Possession,/i> by Nicole Persun
    Booktrope Publishing

  • Elaine December 23, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I am so in awe of the writing from this tiny excerpt that I had to post it in my twitter @inkdipped. Top shelf of my top shelf list.

    Elaine Sangiolo
    Booktrope Publishing

  • What You Don't Know | Words and Coffee January 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm

    […] that I had seen Obreht’s book, The Tiger’s Wife show up on a couple of blogs I enjoy, A Dribble of Ink and the The Speculative Scotsman. I’d considered seeing if I could find the book at our local […]

  • Luxembourg February 22, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    I found it unbelievable and too weird for my taste. I did recognize good character development but am very confused by the adulation of this young author with just too odd of an imagination for me.

  • […] this experience twice in the last handful of months; first with The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht (REVIEW) and now with The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Chandresh Christophe Lefèvre enters not a […]

  • Sara March 30, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I know *exactly* how you feel – this novel is pure magic. I am truly in awe of Obreht’s incredible talent.

    I wrote a review on my blog and I’d love if you’d check it out!