The Tiger’s Wife in Croatia

The Tiger’s Wife is not a 1001 list book but it is one of my favourite books for 2011! I know, I know, I’ve already posted about that. I’m sure I’ve told various people at various times what my favourite book for 2011 is and it’s not that I’m particularly flighty or capricious or anything, it’s just that I keep reading great books. And I didn’t happen to get to The Tiger’s Wife until March 2012. Anyway!

The Tiger’s Wife is the first novel by the crazy talented Tea Obreht (of whom I am very jealous). It tells the story of Nathalia, a young doctor delivering medicine to children orphaned by her country’s army across a border that once didn’t exist. On the way she learns that her grandfather has died and the book weaves together her story and past with the folktales associated with her grandfather’s life; the deathless man and the tiger’s wife.

It’s a seemingly simple but actually complex mix of elements that really beautifully tells the story of the changing country and it’s people, focussing on animals, superstition, ignorance and wisdom.

Obreht omits place names to focus on the narrative rather than the politics but hey, I’m going to go ahead and say Nathalia is from Belgrade delivering medicine to Croatia (I can back it up yo). It serves my purposes at any rate.

Croatia is super beautiful. Amazingly beautiful. We fell in love with Dubrovnik the second we got there; it’s small town charm, it’s bright blue water and little houses stacked up on green hills. And that was just on the drive to our apartment – before we even got to the old city. Walking around the old walls was incredible. It helps that we were there before tourist season so everything was very laid back. It was the same everywhere we went, with half the places closed or being done up in preparation for summer. We went to a place advertised as the most beautiful beach in the world and there were only a handful of people there. It was incredibly peaceful and calm, I didn’t want to ever leave even though it was freaking freezing. I felt so at home in Zagreb, a city full of art and culture and beautiful parks.

So: The Tiger’s Wife – amazing. Croatia – amazing. You should do both.

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