Winner of the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction!
Set in an unnamed Balkan country shortly after the end of civil war, The Tiger's Wife
is, on the surface, a tale of one woman's search for the truth behind her beloved grandfather's death, but the implications of this search are fundamental to the way we make sense of life and death. Obreht's delicate unfolding of Natalia's grandfather's past presents a multi-dimensional view of a man Natalia believed she knew. From the reader's view, these different perspectives are suspended but never resolved, so that we are left with the final, breathless conclusion that they could all be true. The tantalizing notion that the fantastic and unbelievable can co-exist with the mundane has long fueled religion, fiction, and folklore. Obreht teases out the human impulse to create stories, to contrive wonder in the...
Beyond the Book
The Tiger's Wife
comes out of the magical realism tradition. Like the technique itself, the definition of magical realism is difficult to pin down, but most critics agree that it is a literary mode that "seizes the paradox of the union of opposites." In this way, writers are able to hold, as Obreht does, the real and the fantastic together so that both paradoxical elements are accepted in the same thought.
Though the idea of magical realism was originated in 1920s Germany by Franz Roh to describe post-expressionist art, the term lo real maravillso
(magical realism), as applied to literature came out of Latin America in the late 1940s. The first writers to find literary success with this mode were Argentinian Jorge Luis Borges and Colombian...