The Tiger’s Wife: A Genuine Page Turner
This submission is courtesy of Readers' Advisor Lynne Rubio
In its eighth week on the Publishers Weekly Bestsellers List this captivating novel proves that a debut work of literary fiction can be both masterfully wrought and a genuine page-turner.
Amid the war-scarred landscape of a fictionalized Balkan country, a young doctor, Natalia, faces superstition and secrecy on a humanitarian trip to an orphanage across the border. At the same time, she searches for the truth of her grandfather's mysterious final days and his solitary death in a small country village. In Eastern Orthodox tradition, we learn, “the forty days of the soul begin on the morning after death.” During that time, it will “make its way to the places of its past.” Natalia must return home with her grandfather's personal effects before those forty days pass so that his soul can find its way.
That is the basis for a finely-crafted mix of history and legend, reality and allegory. With extraordinary skill and imagination, Obreht slowly illuminates the grandfather's life through the re-telling of "the deathless man" and "the tiger's wife," two of his own fantastic tales. “These stories run like secret rivers through all the other stories” of his life. Subtly, each bit of myth and memory builds on the next to reveal the character of both the man and the land from which he comes.
This novel is not a light read, but neither is it inaccessible. Its richness and complexity awes and we are left with the understanding that who we believe our loved ones to be is powerfully influenced by the stories they tell. And in turn, the stories lived out by everyday people define their homeland more truly than any boundary drawn on a map.
Check it out: the library has The Tiger's Wife in three formats: hardcover, CD audiobook, and downloadable audiobook.
Other works of literary fiction currently gracing the bestseller lists are:
Room by Emma Donoghue – a harrowing tale of imprisonment, abuse, and survival uniquely narrated by a five-year-old boy.
Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin – portraying a dutiful and self-sacrificing mother through the voices of her family, who are left both guilty and bereft when she mysteriously disappears.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain – a fictionalized account of the turbulent relationship between Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley.
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace – the unfinished novel by the late Wallace about mind-numbing boredom and the truths it can reveal.