A few years ago, I read an interesting short story by Yugoslavian writer Téa Obreht, and when I finished it, I thought, "Wow! What a fantastic writer! I wonder what she'll do next."
'The Tiger's Wife' was sitting on the shelves at my Borders store, but I was so busy writing my own story that I didn't have the time to read it. I now slap my forehead, saying over and over, "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" I learned that an author like Obreht cannot be ignored.
Today, I finished reading 'The Tiger's Wife' and, to put it lightly, I was left breathless. Breathless because her writing is so brilliant. Breathless because she will undoubtedly have more to offer (as I type this, I'm praying that she's working on a new story). Breathless because she has taken so many strings and woven them into a perfectly-blended narrative.
Needless to say, Obreht is now on my list of favorite authors, and I hope she can forgive me for taking such a long time to join the party.
Natalia, a young doctor living in a Balkan country mending from almost-constant war, sets out to uncover the mystery of her beloved grandfather's death. With the reference of his worn novel, 'The Jungle Book', to guide her, she stumbles upon unsettling discoveries, and at the same time, remembers the stories he told her; the meeting with the 'Deathless Man', and the most extraordinary story of all, the legend of the tiger's wife.
Although death and loss are central to this amazing story, it is also filled with hope, reconciliation, and love. And while I could fully visualize the characters and feel as if I were accompanying them on their separate journeys, it was the folklore that truly touched me.
I will never forget this story, and I'm sure you'll feel the same way. As I've said before, great writing is still alive and well.
Especially when it leaves you breathless.