Téa Obreht tells stories like a Balkan Scheherazade. In her spectacular debut novel, The Tiger’s Wife, the Belgrade-born, New York-based writer spins a tale of such marvel and magic in a literary voice so enchanting that the mesmerized reader wants her never to stop. Obreht’s narrator is Natalia — a young doctor from an unnamed war-cracked country much like the author’s own former Yugoslavia — who is delivering supplies to an orphanage when she learns that her adored grandfather has died. As Natalia unravels the mysteries surrounding his death, remembered stories either by or about her grandfather and other family members spill out, anchoring her in tradition and lore even as she tries to live in her fractured modern land. Tigers figure brightly in the plot; so does a ”deathless man” of legend whose immortality is explained with just the right blend of ghost story and Eastern European metaphor.
At 25, Obreht is joltingly young to have found such a clear, wise voice, moored by the faintly droll storytelling style of her heritage and set free by her own tremendous talent. She made headlines last year as the youngest on The New Yorker‘s list of the 20 best fiction writers under 40. With The Tiger’s Wife, Obreht will make headlines as one of the most exciting new writers of her generation, a young artist with the maturity and grace that comes of knowing where one is from, and of honoring those who came before. A