The Tiger’s Wife, Téa Obreht REVIEW


This is a book about a young woman’s

relationship with her grandfather, how that relationship changes and grows as they both get older and understand each other on deeper levels.  The story begins after Natalia’s grandfather’s death, as Natalia, a young doctor, tries to understand the meaning of her life and the impact that her grandfather had on it.

The novel revolves around two stories that her grandfather told her as a little girl, one was about a deathless man and another about a girl in his village they called the Tiger’s Wife.   By reliving and retelling the stories her grandfather told her as a child on their visits to the zoo, Natalia begins to acquire a deeper sense of her grandfather and in the process learns about herself.

This story was especially dear to my heart because I was very close to my grandfather.  We would spend countless hours together, talking, laughing, occasionally having spirited debates.   I still feel like crying when I think about how much I miss hearing the sound of his voice.  This book reminded me about the importance of listening to our families and knowing where we come from, what shaped the lives of those who came before us, and how we fit into all of it.

It is a beautiful, touching story, beautifully told.

Two discussion questions from

1. Natalia says that the key to her grandfather’s life and death “lies between two stories: the story of the tiger’s wife, and the story of the deathless man.” What power do the stories we tell about ourselves have to shape our identity and help us understand our lives?

2. Which of the different ways the characters go about making peace with the dead felt familiar from your own life? Which took you by surprise?

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