How to pronounce Téa Obreht: Tay-uh Ah-bret
Téa Obreht's first novel, The Tigers Wife, was published by The Dial Press in March 2011. Her fiction debut - an excerpt of The Tiger's Wife in The New Yorker - was followed by a short story in the summer 2009 fiction issue of The Atlantic.
She was born in 1985 in the former Yugoslavia. Until she was seven, she lived in Belgrade (now the capital of Servia) with her mother; her grandfather (a Roman Catholic from Slovenia); and her grandmother (a Muslim from Bosnia). When civil war broke out in 1992, the family moved first to Cyprus and then to Cairo, where she attended English schools. In 1997, when the war ended, her grandparents returned to Belgrade, but she and her mother immigrated to the USA, first living outside Atlanta and then settling in Palo Alto, south of San Francisco in California.
After graduating from the University of Southern California, Téa received her M.F.A. in Fiction from the Creative Writing Program at Cornell University in 2009, and now lives in Ithaca, New York. In June 2010 she was named one of The New Yorker's "20 Under 40" list of fiction writers worth watching - the only one of the 20 authors to be unpublished in book form at the time of being given the award; she was 24 years old. The Tiger's Wife is not just a first for Téa, it is also the first book ever to be sold by her agent, Seth Fishman (30 at the time), and the second book bought by her editor, Noah Eaker, who was 26 when he acquired it while still technically an editorial assistant for Dial Press (an imprint of Random House).
Although set in the Balkans, she says The Tiger's Wife is not autobiographical. She did not live through the war in the Balkans, and her grandfather was a successful aviation engineer, not a physician, who, while a great storyteller, did not tell folk tales.
This biography was last updated on 06/02/2013.
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Téa Obreht talks about her first novel, The Tiger's Wife
After completing my first novel, The Tiger's Wife , I've found myself indulging in a sentimental mood. I pretend that this is due to my need to retrace my steps, to see how it all came together, and, by remembering what I did before, somehow speed my next project along; in fact, I am probably just procrastinating or being insufferable, mulling over memories that, due to the late hours, were doomed to an impregnable haze a long time ago. I dig through my "notes": folded scraps of paper, the backs of torn-open envelopes where I doodled plot points and lines of dialogue, index cards with cryptic inscriptions"BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THE WATERMELON?!?!?"punctuated as though I'd had some kind of civilization-saving breakthrough.
For whatever reason, as I go through my notes, I spend much of my time revisiting the evolution of my characters. Who's been there the longest? Who was thrown out at the last minute? Who was the life and soul of the first draft, and then ended up with one dialogue in the third? Who's been renamed, transformed completely into somebody else?
In some ways, the answers to these questions ...
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