The Yugoslavian Marquez

First off, apologies to all for the long absence since our last post.  Nothing sinister sadly, just holidays and religious festivals to contend with.

Anyway, after several recommendations to do so, I finally got around to reading ‘The Tiger’s Wife‘ by Tea Obreht.  A colleague of mine had said it was a good read and that I should give it a go.  My recent holiday allowing me the time to read something non-academic or related to work.

The start of the story was weak and I was half considering abandoning it completely but then the narrative moved to something more akin to ‘100 Years of Solitude’ which is one of my favourite books so I continued and was not wholly disappointed.

The novel is based in a fictional (although East European) country that is recovering from the ravages of war.  What is interesting about the book is that is looks more at the psychological effects that long-term divisions and military action has on non-soldiers.  A particular section of the book discussing how teenagers during the war were almost complacent about the situation and still rebelled against their parents – the war would happen regardless of them.

The most interesting parts of the book focus on the Grandfather and his relationship with the Deathless Man and the Tiger’s Wife of the title.  As the characters battle between the logic of science and the power of superstition, one feels more interest in their stories.  There are no happy endings in this tale, just the series of encounters that make up ones life.

A negative point is that the chapters and stories within the narrative feel a little disconnected at times – as though they were a series of short stories.  I have, however, felt this way before about Marquez.  Whilst Obreht’s style is not so fluid and lyrical as Marquez, there is something in the Tiger’s Wife that is reminiscent of a community segregated from the rest of the world and functioning within its own boundaries and superstitions.

All in all, the book is one that deserves the popularity that it has achieved – if not only for the fact that author is younger than I am!

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