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Melissa_W
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THE TIGER'S WIFE: Week 4, Chapters 10 - 13 and the Novel as a Whole

Please use this thread for discussion of The Tiger's Wife in its entirety.

Melissa W.
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Discussion Questions from About.com

I'm posting these in the week 4 thread in case there are spoilers (link):

 

  • Tea Obreht spends a lot of time on back story and development of certain characters - the butcher, the deaf-mute, the apothecary, and others. Do you have a favorite character? A least favorite?
  • Did you enjoy the way the book was written - so much of it in flashback, stories often within stories? Or did you find it confusing?

 

  • At the end when Natalia meets the deathless man for herself, do you think she believes it finally? Or is she still skeptical?

 

  • What exactly was the connection between the deaf-mute and the tiger?

 

  • Why do you think the author chose not to name the main city when it obviously (with a little research) is Belgrade?
Melissa W.
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Discussion Questions from Lit Lovers

Lit Lovers (link):

 

1. Natalia says that the key to her grandfather’s life and death “lies between two stories: the story of the tiger’s wife, and the story of the deathless man.” What power do the stories we tell about ourselves have to shape our identity and help us understand our lives?

2. Which of the different ways the characters go about making peace with the dead felt familiar from your own life? Which took you by surprise?

3. Natalia believes that her grandfather’s memories of the village apothecary “must have been imperishable.” What lesson do you think he might have learned from what happened to the Apothecary?

4. What significance does the tiger have to the different characters in the novel: Natalia, her grandfather, the tiger’s wife, the villagers? Why do you think Natalia’s grandfather’s reaction to the tiger’s appearance in the village was so different than the rest of the villagers?

5. “The story of this war—dates, names, who started it, why—that belongs to everyone,” Natalia’s grandfather tells her. But “those moments you keep to yourself” are more important. By eliding place names and specific events of recent Balkan history, what do you think the author is doing?

6. When the deathless man and the grandfather share a last meal before the bombing of Sarobor, the grandfather urges the deathless man to tell the waiter his fate so he can go home and be with his family. Is Gavran Gailé right to decide to stop telling people that they are going to die? Would you rather know your death was coming or go “in suddenness”?

7. Did knowing more about Luka’s past make him more sympathetic? Why do you think the author might have chosen to give the back stories of Luka, Dariša the Bear, and the apothecary?

8. The copy of The Jungle Book Natalia’s grandfather always carries around in his coat pocket is not among the possessions she collects after his death. What do you think happens to it?

9. The novel moves back and forth between myth and modern-day “real life.” What did you think of the juxtaposition of folklore and contemporary realism?

10. Of all the themes of this novel—war, storytelling, family, death, myth, etc.—which one resonated the most for you?


(Questions issued by publisher.)

Melissa W.
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Fozzie
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Re: THE TIGER'S WIFE: Week 4, Chapters 10 - 13 and the Novel as a Whole

Let me know when you two are done with the book.  I would love to discuss a few of these questions.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Melissa_W
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Re: THE TIGER'S WIFE: Week 4, Chapters 10 - 13 and the Novel as a Whole

Which would you like to start with? :smileyhappy:

Melissa W.
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Re: THE TIGER'S WIFE: Week 4, Chapters 10 - 13 and the Novel as a Whole

How about this question?

 

8. The copy of The Jungle Book Natalia’s grandfather always carries around in his coat pocket is not among the possessions she collects after his death. What do you think happens to it?

 

I think the deathless man came to retrieve it.

Laura

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Re: THE TIGER'S WIFE: Week 4, Chapters 10 - 13 and the Novel as a Whole

That's a possibility.  I didn't think of that but that makes it all a bit more intriguing, fitting the book back into the story.  Early on I had just assumed that someone wherever he died took it - someone with a child, in an area where I'm sure books have become precious due to wartime - and didn't really think about it after.

 

Anyone else?


Fozzie wrote:

How about this question?

 

8. The copy of The Jungle Book Natalia’s grandfather always carries around in his coat pocket is not among the possessions she collects after his death. What do you think happens to it?

 

I think the deathless man came to retrieve it.


 

 

 

Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
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Re: THE TIGER'S WIFE: Week 4, Chapters 10 - 13 and the Novel as a Whole

I am glad that you had a different opinion!  Makes things more interesting.
I'll pick another question or two later today.

Melissa_W wrote:

That's a possibility.  I didn't think of that but that makes it all a bit more intriguing, fitting the book back into the story.  Early on I had just assumed that someone wherever he died took it - someone with a child, in an area where I'm sure books have become precious due to wartime - and didn't really think about it after.

 

Anyone else?


Fozzie wrote:

How about this question?

 

8. The copy of The Jungle Book Natalia’s grandfather always carries around in his coat pocket is not among the possessions she collects after his death. What do you think happens to it?

 

I think the deathless man came to retrieve it.


 

 

Laura

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Re: Discussion Questions from About.com



  • Did you enjoy the way the book was written - so much of it in flashback, stories often within stories? Or did you find it confusing?

 



Normally, I have no problems with a story told in flashback.  However, I did have a bit of trouble with this book being told in flashback.  I think it was because the sections were fairly long, not a length that I would read in one sitting, like a ten page chapter, so by the time I spent a couple of days reading a flashback, I had forgotten how the previous section had ended and would have to go back to remind myself.

Laura

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Fozzie
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Re: Discussion Questions from About.com




  • At the end when Natalia meets the deathless man for herself, do you think she believes it finally? Or is she still skeptical?

 

 


Yes, I do think Natalia believes it.  Why else would she be waiting outside in the dark?  Even I believed in the deathless man and thought the man she encounters must be him!

Laura

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Re: Discussion Questions from About.com



  

  • Why do you think the author chose not to name the main city when it obviously (with a little research) is Belgrade?


Did you read the paperback?  If so, Tea addresses this in the interview with Jennifer Egan in the back.  How interesting is it that our next book is The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan?!

Laura

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Re: Discussion Questions from About.com


 


What exactly was the connection between the deaf-mute and the tiger? 

 




I did not know the answer to this question.  However, I found a blog post that gave a great answer:  

 

In grieving over the passing of her grandfather, Natalia tells the two stories that defined his life: the story of the deathless man (Gavran Gaile) and that of the tiger's wife. The two are linked -- Gaile received the curse of endless life because he fell in love and revived Amana, the sister of the tiger's wife. Amana, the intended betrothed of Luka, instead ran off with the deathless man, leaving her deaf-mute sister to take her place and return with Luka to Natalia's grandfather's hometown, Galina.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danielle-wienerbronner/the-tigers-wife-hpbookclub_b_1240336.html


Laura

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Re: THE TIGER'S WIFE: Week 4, Chapters 10 - 13 and the Novel as a Whole

[ Edited ]

Fozzie wrote:
I am glad that you had a different opinion!  Makes things more interesting.
I'll pick another question or two later today.

Melissa_W wrote:

That's a possibility.  I didn't think of that but that makes it all a bit more intriguing, fitting the book back into the story.  Early on I had just assumed that someone wherever he died took it - someone with a child, in an area where I'm sure books have become precious due to wartime - and didn't really think about it after.

 

Anyone else?


Fozzie wrote:

How about this question?

 

8. The copy of The Jungle Book Natalia’s grandfather always carries around in his coat pocket is not among the possessions she collects after his death. What do you think happens to it?

 

I think the deathless man came to retrieve it.


 

 


I'm in Laura's camp on this one.  But, didn't Natalia dump all the things out of her backpack in the presence of the deadless man?  Did he claim the book then, or had he already revisited her Grandfather just before he died and claimed it then?  Or, did he get it the evening of the dinner before the bombing at Sarobor?  I.e., did the grandfather see Gavran again?  Or do we just not know?

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: THE TIGER'S WIFE: Week 4, Chapters 10 - 13 and the Novel as a Whole


Peppermill wrote:

I'm in Laura's camp on this one.  But, didn't Natalia dump all the things out of her backpack in the presence of the deadless man?  Did he claim the book then, or had he already revisited her Grandfather just before he died and claimed it then?  Or, did he get it the evening of the dinner before the bombing at Sarobor?  I.e., did the grandfather see Gavran again?  Or do we just not know?


I am fuzzy since it has been awhile since I finished the book.  I remember thinking that Natalia's grandfather did not give the book to the deathless man during their dinner.  I don't remember how I know this.  I think because the grandfather refused to give it up.

 

I remember Natalia dumping a backpack in front of the deathless man.  Where was that in the book?  I don't think e-readers have page numbers, do they?  Could you at least give me the chapter it's in?  I seem to remember that it was not in the backpack dump.  

 

I think the deathless man snuck somewhere to grab it, after the grandfather's death, but without anyone knowing.

Laura

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Re: THE TIGER'S WIFE: Week 4, Chapters 10 - 13 and the Novel as a Whole

There is a rather interesting discussion of the deathless man here:

 

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/550705-the-deathless-man

 

I haven't had a chance to go back and track down your questions, Laura.  Maybe eventually I'll see if I can get my hands on a hard copy -- might be easier than trying to trace back on ebook.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Peppermill
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Re: THE TIGER'S WIFE: Week 4, Chapters 10 - 13 and the Novel as a Whole

Does anyone have thoughts on why this made the NYT list of best books in 2011?  While I found it interesting, I'm not sure but what I would have expected other books to have been considered better.

 

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: THE TIGER'S WIFE: Week 4, Chapters 10 - 13 and the Novel as a Whole

THE TIGER’S WIFE

By Téa Obreht. Random House, cloth, $25; paper, $15.

As war returns to the Balkans, a young doctor inflects her grandfather’s folk tales with stories of her own coming of age, creating a vibrant collage of historical testimony that has neither date nor dateline. Obreht, who was born in Belgrade in 1985 but left at the age of 7, has recreated, with startling immediacy and presence, a conflict she herself did not experience.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/11/books/10-best-books-of-2011.html

 

Above is the NYT announcement. 

 

THE TIGER’S WIFE. By Téa Obreht. (Random House, $25.) In her first novel, Obreht uses fable and allegory to illustrate the complexities of Balkan history, unearthing the region’s patterns of suspicion, superstition and everyday violence. 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/22/books/review/100-notable-books-of-2011.html?pagewanted=3

 

From the earlier 100 notable books.  Did the book really tell us that much about Balkan history?  Certainly the topic was relevant for recognition.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: THE TIGER'S WIFE: Week 4, Chapters 10 - 13 and the Novel as a Whole

The announcement makes it sound more like the whole of history but I think the book covered more recent history, specifically the ethnic issues that arose when the major European powers drew the countries' boundaries.


Peppermill wrote:

THE TIGER’S WIFE

By Téa Obreht. Random House, cloth, $25; paper, $15.

As war returns to the Balkans, a young doctor inflects her grandfather’s folk tales with stories of her own coming of age, creating a vibrant collage of historical testimony that has neither date nor dateline. Obreht, who was born in Belgrade in 1985 but left at the age of 7, has recreated, with startling immediacy and presence, a conflict she herself did not experience.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/11/books/10-best-books-of-2011.html

 

Above is the NYT announcement. 

 

THE TIGER’S WIFE. By Téa Obreht. (Random House, $25.) In her first novel, Obreht uses fable and allegory to illustrate the complexities of Balkan history, unearthing the region’s patterns of suspicion, superstition and everyday violence. 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/22/books/review/100-notable-books-of-2011.html?pagewanted=3

 

From the earlier 100 notable books.  Did the book really tell us that much about Balkan history?  Certainly the topic was relevant for recognition.


 

Melissa W.
I read and knit and dance. Compulsively feel yarn. Consume books. Darn tights. Drink too much caffiene. All that good stuff.
balletbookworm.blogspot.com