The next meeting of the All Good Books group will be held at 7 PM on Thursday, July 12, 2012 at the Leawood Pioneer Library (4700 Town Center Drive, Leawood, KS) in the meeting room. The group will discuss “The Tiger’s Wife” by Tea Obreht.

Here are a few questions we may discuss at our July meeting.

  1. How would you summarize The Tiger’s Wife? One person wrote: “It’s a family saga that takes place in a fictionalized province of the Balkans. It’s about a female narrator and her relationship to her grandfather, who’s a doctor. It’s a saga about doctors and their relationships to death throughout all these wars in the Balkans.” Do you think that adequately summarizes the book and its main theme? What do you think was the author’s purpose in writing The Tiger’s Wife?
  2. Is the book less compelling or more so, because the author did not actually live through the war and disintegration of Yugoslavia?
  3. What do you think the book says about children growing up in war, the fatalism of war, and bravery vs. indignation?
  4. What does the book say about the devil, spirits (Mora), superstition and how we explain the unexplainable?
  5. When Natalia and her beloved Grandfather, the Doctor, (on page 55-56) see the elephant in the night, he admonishes her that “You must understand, this is one of those moments….One of those moments you keep to yourself….” Explain what you understand “those moments” to be. In the age of Facebook and Twitter, do those moments still exist?
  6. Duré (page 91-92) says, “We’ve got a cousin in this vineyard, Doctor…. Buried twelve years ago. During the war…. Doesn’t like it here, and he’s making us sick. When we find him we’ll be on our way.” Do we, American readers, have any superstitions that might parallel Duré’s belief that an unhappy deceased relative might cause pain and illness to living survivors? Do we have any superstitions at all?
  7. Consider the “rituals of superstition” which the Blacksmith practices; and his supposed “sealed fate” as a result of his estranged aunt’s blessing as a baby (page 120-121). Consider again, do we have any superstitions at all?
  8. What statement is the author making by the story of the Virgin of the Waters starting on page 171?
  9. Is the greatest fear, uncertainty? See page 183.
  10. Do you think the Doctor’s family’s patron saint was really Lazarus (page 267)? Why or why not? Who would you choose as your family’s patron saint?
  11. We learn the history of Luka in the chapter called “The Butcher” starting on page 190. Does his backstory generate sympathy for him? Did it change your view of how and why he treated his deaf-mute wife as he did? Was Luka a good man? A bad man? An abused man?
  12. Do you understand why the Doctor (Natalia’s Grandfather) went to Sarobor when he knew the city would be bombed shortly (page 284-299)? Explain? Would you have taken the risk? Why or why not?
  13. During the last meal between Gavran Gailé and the Doctor (pages 300-302), do you think the doctor was given a choice between a death of “suddenness” and a death that creeps slowly upon him? If that was his choice, what did he choose and did he choose wisely?
  14. Should the waiter (pages 296-297) been advised by the deathless man or the Doctor of his fate? Would you want to know?
  15. Who was the deathless man? Was he real or “allegorical?” Who was “the hat?” Was he real or allegorical?
  16. The Apothecary and Blind Orlo were basically con men (page 312-313). What does that passage say about “white lies,” what we “want to hear” and “unleashed secrets?”
  17. Many of the passages in The Tiger’s Wife are very beautiful, detailed and descriptive. Do you have a favorite passage?
  18. Did you find the book’s conclusion satisfying? Explain.

Review of The Tiger’s Wife that you might find valuable:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/mar/12/tigers-wife-tea-obreht-review

Information on Bosnia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosniak

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