A non-catty review of ‘The Tiger’s Wife’ by Téa Obreht (Orange Prize Winner 2011)

This novel was poetic and much better than the odd title suggested. However, the author was very young when she composed the narrative and it is possible that she will go on to produce even better work in the future. Although ‘The Tiger’s Wife’ possessed many good qualities, there were some aspects of it which seemed a little unsatisfactory.

On the positive side of things, the novel was highly imaginative. Ms Obreht generated an abundance of ideas. In addition, she wrote well about the former Yugoslavia. She clearly has an effective way of creating atmosphere and does not find it hard to capture the feel of diverse places.

Nonetheless, the magical realist approach adopted by the author seemed somewhat disappointing for two reasons. Firstly, it did not appear particularly original. Secondly, the elements of humour within the book were not particularly funny and did not work well with the grim realities of a protracted civil war. Ms Obreht has also written short fiction, and in my view one of these dark tales was more effective than this episodic novel. To be fair, this was a first novel and this fact should be underlined. The late Gabriel García Márquez did not compose ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ until after he had finished ‘In Evil Hour.’


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