The Tiger’s Wife Book Review: Life, Death, And Some In Between

Book number 7 is The Tiger’s Wife by T. Obreht. I started reading it January 19, but as dengue rudely interrupted, I only finished today. With death reeking of The Tiger’s Wife from cover to cover, it really did not make good reading in the hospital setting. 😆

The main frame of the book is on Natalia, a young doctor, trying to come to terms with the death of her grandfather, outside of the border, in a town not even on the map. I say main frame because from chapter to chapter, different stories of myth and folklore are juggled, with a tad of magical realism, which I must admit is handled very well. I often roll my eyes when I realize a book is trying to mix real with the imagined, but in the case of The Tiger’s Wife, it has succeeded.

The strength of the book lied in this storytelling. The descriptions were rich, cultured, and vivid, and there was layer after layer of texture encapsulated within the pages of the book. This is also why it is impossible to devour the book, where common sense dictated to stop and digest one full bit at a time for the most understanding. Many times I’ve felt I’ve read a long stretch, only to discover it has only been three pages in reality. Don’t confuse this as drag. It was good richness that you can almost feel rolling in your mouth. 🙂

The sketch of the characters were dismal but forgivable because the highlight of the work, as I’ve mentioned, is in the storytelling. Simply put, The Tiger’s Wife is a story of stories glued by good descriptive writing. Now with regard to the setting, it was unnamed, but at the back cover, you will see the author information and it will dawn on you that the unnamed Balkan country the story took was the former Yugoslavia.

Among many things, the book talked about superstitions and how people easily take them for the real thing, for the sake of holding on to something than nothing. It too showed how everyone tends to blame others for their misfortunes because it is easier. It touched family and how we deal with our loved ones, of how we sometimes do certain things selfishly and without remorse, oddly enough, for the love of them. The Tiger’s Wife discussed things that we cannot understand, or were not meant to be understood, only accepted, and also of war and its effects, how it never ends, even when the smoke has gone out and the rubble cleared. But most of all, the book talked about death, and how people choose to deal with it, or not. In this the characters make a brilliant job in depicting how everyone uniquely responds to the ultimate equalizer, the only thing certain in this world marked with uncertainty.

The main symbolism on the book, the tiger, is nothing but death too. How it is always there, lurking, hunting, stalking, leaving traces but not entirely seen, until it comes, but before then, spreading fear to some, but interestingly, hope to others. I loved how the suddenness of it all was explained, how a sudden death is a gift. The book truly reeked of death, in all shapes and sizes, but in the best possible sort, that enlightens the living.

Interestingly enough, the most vivid character of the book, was a deathless man. He was a grim reaper of some sort and I loved his story, understood the logic behind his job, and tear at the fate the befell him. You should see how everything ties together for yourself. It is really something special.

The book has a lot to say about the living in the unraveling of death, and when you reach the last page, it leaves you with that feeling of satisfaction of having completed an adventure. The Tiger’s Wife was a lovely experience that I am certain I would embark again. 🙂

On the photo: The Tiger’s Wife on paperback My Man got me prior to dengue. I was sick for 12 days to open the year, which explains the oranges that came with the book.

Recommended book reviews: The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, The Notebook, Love The One You’re With, Professional Idiot, Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim.

17 thoughts on “The Tiger’s Wife Book Review: Life, Death, And Some In Between

  1. I’ve been trying to figure out who the deathless man is. I’m only almost halfway through the book, but I really just want to figure him out. Everything else could float away. : ) I can’t wait to keep reading after reading your blog.

  2. Pingback: 12 Best Books Of 2012: Can’t Talk, In Wonderland « Prinsesa's Anatomy

  3. Hello!

    First time on your blog! Ijust love your style of reviewing. you give such a personal touch to it!
    I just finished reading The Tigers Wife, and I wrote a review for my blog. I just want to ask you if it’s ok if I link you review to it at the end, so that my readers can have another opinion.
    Please let me know. I am going to post the review on Saturday.
    Also, if you like the blog (it’s very new), would you please become a follower? I really need feedback from fellow reviewers!

    Thank you.

    • hello and thank you. i just try my best and share my thoughts. i am also about to post my next book review on the memory keeper’s daughter by kim edwards. it’s fine with me to link this post up. looking forward to your post.

  4. I used to have the ebook (torrent download) on my Android. But my conscience told me not to read it. I still prefer the real thing. I’ll be buying the book after reading all my pending reads. Thanks for this post PM. ^__^

    • hello liz, yes it is an interesting book, particularly for a first novel from obreht. i didn’t get dengue, my man did, but all is well. 🙂

  5. i thought this book is about asian moms as they are labeled as “tiger moms” by the media recently. iba pala siya. hehe…

    nakakabilib ang pagbasa mo ng libro. inggit me much. i’m curretly reading the professional idiot and nasa 70+% pa lang ako. busy din kasi ako sa work minsan. reading that book, nanghihinayang ako sa mga ginagawa nyang pag-abuso sa katawan niya. looking forward to what will happen at the memoir’s end though. 🙂

    • that is a different book. i think you are talking about the one written by amy chua, battle hymn of the tiger mother? i just try to revel in the book in the same way the writer may have done while writing it. there is something special about it 🙂 good luck, patapos ka na! go for the gold! oo totoo yan, siguro mamamatay siya ng maaga, pwede din naman hindi sabi niya nga fast healer siya. oks ang ending niyan, di tulad ng ibang conversion memoirs. 🙂

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