Cannonball Read IV: The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
I originally didn't have much hope for The Tiger's Wife. I was flying back home after Christmas and I knew Anansi Boys, my 100th book of 2011, wouldn't last through my three hour lay over in Philly. Unfortunately, the bookstore at the Ohio airport is sponsored by Glenn Beck. In between books written by him or other crazy bigots, there were a few books about animals that I just knew would end in tears, a "gently used" copy of Breaking Dawn that looked like someone had tried to throw it into a jet engine (and rightly so), and The Tiger's Wife. So I choose the evil I didn't know over the evil that makes me foam at the mouth and go into a She Hulk rage.
The book centers on a young doctor named Natalia, who is on a Doctor's without Borders-like quest. Natalia's country, somewhere in the Balkans, has been in repeatedly conflict with...themselves? the country next door? the Muslims? It's not very clear; suffice to say, lots of people don't like other people, possibly over religion. While on her trip, Natalia receives news that her grandfather is dead. Natalia was close to her grandfather; he helped raise her and was also a doctor himself. He had only confided in her his secret battle with cancer. However, she is surprised to learn that he had been on his way to help her with her doctoring thing when he passed away in a small town no one has ever heard of. The rest of the story deals with Natalia recounting her grandfather's stories interspersed with her coping with his death.
Obreht may have started out writing a book about war, but it became more of a book about death, but not in a heavy-handed, maudlin way. The war just becomes the setting for the stage in a play about people dealing with death. The grandfather's stories also give the book a nice "Big Fish" vibe as well.
Also, there's totally a tiger in it. (I get annoyed when a title says one thing, but then it turns out the title was some sort of bad metaphor).
Method of Attainment & Price: Columbus airport bookstore for free, because my parents were filled with the spirit of Christmas
This review is part of the Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it.