An historical mystery about the recent war in the Balkans, plus family secrets, legends of death, and zoos.
Since finishing this book late last night, it’s kept my mind buzzing, but I’m not entirely sure why. Throughout the book, I felt I was reading chapters from a fairytale, or a compendium of brilliant short stories (as someone who really likes short stories, especially Hemmingway’s, that is a compliment). What has me slightly off-kilter, though, is when I step back from the intricacies of Luka the Butcher or The Apothecary and try to get a sense of the novel as a whole. What does the Tiger’s Wife have to do with the Deathless Man? And how do either of the tales — and they were wonderfully written — reveal the supposed mystery about the grandfather’s death?
Tea Obreht is a great writer and makes her characters live… and perhaps I was reading this too late at night. That said, although it’s a sophisticated technique to leave many things unsaid so that the reader can fill in the gaps, occasionally we do need a bit of a nudge in order to take the right path out of the woods. In this case, I think I got caught in some brambles on my way out and didn’t know if the Tiger or the Deathless Man would ever show up to help me get home.