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Book Discussion Questions: The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht

Cover of The Tiger's WifeTitle: The Tiger’s Wife
Author: Téa Obreht
Page Count: 338 pages
Genre: Literary fiction
Tone:  Mystical, Haunting, Lyrical

Summary from publisher:
In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her–the legend of the tiger’s wife.

 

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

1. Did it bother you that there were no actual geographical or time period references?

2. How did the time-shifting aspects of the book affect your experience of the story?

3. Natalia and Zora were together on a mission trip when she finds out that her grandfather had died. Why doesn’t she tell Zora?

4. Zora is in a predicament. There is a malpractice case brought up against a man who is well connected in the medical community. Her dilemma is whether to “stick it to the man she despised for years and risking a career and reputation she was just beginning to build.” She tells Natalia that she wants to ask her grandfathers’ opinion. What advice do you think he would have given her? What would you do?

5. “Swear to me on your life that you didn’t know.” Why didn’t Natalia admit to her grandmother that she knew her grandfather was sick?

6. As Natalia and her grandfather are watching the elephant walk down the street in the middle of the night, Natalia said, “None of my friends will ever believe this.” Her grandfather replied, “The story of the war that belongs to everyone, but something like this, this is yours and belongs only to us.” What do you think he means by this?

7. There are so many references to The Jungle Book and Shere Khan in this novel. Do you see any parallels between Shere Khan of The Jungle Book and the tiger?

8. Why was Barba Ivan’s dog Bis painted by everyone?

9. Leandro understood that part of the tiger was Shere Khan but he has always felt some compassion for Shere Khan. Why do you think that is?

10. How did you feel reading the story from the tiger’s perspective?

11. There are many other animals in this story (parrot, dog, owl, bear). Does their presence have a deeper meaning?

12. Was Dure a good father?

13. Luko, Jovo and the blacksmith go out to kill the tiger after it was seen in the smokehouse. Why did Luko and Jovo tell everyone that the tiger killed the blacksmith and not admit that the gun backfired?

14. Natalia lived most of her life under either the threat of oncoming war or war itself. Would this state have an effect on the decisions one makes for them? How does the lack of a war then affect her?

15. Why do you think “Riki Tiki Tavi” is the deathless man’s favorite story in The Jungle Book?

16. The author said she intended to write the deathless man as more of a menacing character; instead, she felt, he ended up being almost comforting. Had she written that character in a different way, how do you think it would change the tone of the story?

17. Who is the deathless man? Does he exist?

18. Do you think Dr. Leandro, Natalia’s grandfather, is an honorable man? Why or why not?

19. Dr. Leandro placed a wager with the deathless man. Who do you think won? Should Dr. Leandro have paid his debt? If you think he lost the wager does his refusal to honor it change your opinion of him?

20. The second time Dr. Leandro saw the deathless man, there was a miracle by a waterfall. Dr. Leandro was by the waterfall to take care of the sick people that made their pilgrimage there. Gavran Gaile, a.k.a. the deathless man, was by the waterfall as well, and he was letting people know that their time was coming. “But that is what I do; that is my work to give Peace,” the deathless man had said. Do you think that knowing their time is coming gave the sick people peace?

21. Téa Obreht seems to present a character in a certain light, and then she offers background information. Did you find that the background information made you change your initial opinion of any of the characters? If so, which ones and why?

22. Luka takes the tiger’s wife to the smokehouse, ties her up, and leaves her there in hopes that the tiger will devour her. Two weeks later she shows up in town “with a fresh bright face and a smile that suggested something new about her.” What happened to Luka?

23. Why did the villagers hate the tiger’s wife? Why did mother Vera help the tiger’s wife?

24. What was your opinion of the apothecary?

25. Why did Natalia volunteer to take the “heart” to the crossroads and wait for the Mora?

26. What do you think happened to Dr. Leandro’s copy of The Jungle Book?

27. Was there any story or part of the book that particularly struck you?

Other Resources

Lit Lovers’ book discussion questions
Q&A video with Obreht Part One and Part Two
Video of PBS News Hour interview
Vanity Fair interview
Information on the breakup of Yugoslavia

If you liked The Tiger’s Wife, try…

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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on October 8, 2014 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Literary

Staff Pick: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Cathleen staff picks photoAs tickled as I was to see Veronica Mars return, I missed the inventive noir detective work and motley associates. The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by creator Rob Thomas improves upon the movie, giving Veronica plenty of opportunity to outwit and out-quip those in Neptune who have something to hide.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on October 7, 2014 Categories: Books, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Picks by Cathleen, Staff Picks

Fiction: Lock In by John Scalzi

Cover of Lock InIn the not-too-distant future, the world changes because of a virus. Those most affected with Haden’s Syndrome become “locked in” to their own bodies, unable to move or physically react to any stimulus. Sufferers contribute to society via the use of threeps, android-like models that offer mobility and interaction with the rest of the population. They can even hold jobs, and Chris Shane is starting his first week as an FBI agent. Lock In by John Scalzi is witty science fiction in the guise of corporate thriller. As Shane and his partner puzzle out a series of seemingly politically motivated deaths, they are faced with both the intriguing possibilities and the unthinkable dangers of this brave new world.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on October 6, 2014 Categories: Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

New: Audiobooks, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi

Every Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.

For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.

New: Audiobooks

Cover of The Disaster ArtistCover of Close to Home  Cover of All Our Names

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissellk
Close to Home by Lisa Jackson
All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu

Cover of A Path AppearsCover of Don't Look BackCover of The Mill River Redemption

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Path Appears by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Don’t Look Back by Gregg Hurwitz
The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan

New: Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Cover of The Ultra Thin Man Cover of The Clockwork DaggerCover of Dust and Light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ultra Thin Man  by Patrick Swenson
The Clockwork Dagger  by Beth Cato
Dust and Light by Carol Berg

Cover of PrototypeCover of Last Plane to HeavenCover of Hidden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prototype by M.D. Waters
Last Plane to Heaven  by Jay Lake
Hidden by Benedict Jacka

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on October 3, 2014 Categories: Audiobooks, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, New Arrivals

Fiction: No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July

Cover of No One Belongs Here More Than You“I laughed and said, Life is easy. What I meant was, Life is easy with you here, and when you leave, it will be hard again.”

Miranda July boldly explores loneliness in her short story collection, No One Belongs Here More Than You. The sixteen stories feature quirky narrators conversationally depicting a moment of their lives with an acute self-awareness. At times explicit and at times bordering on creepy, the diverse collection is unexpected and eccentric, featuring anything from a swim class for the elderly on an apartment floor to forty women putting napkins over their heads at a romance seminar. Through all the stories, July’s writing is raw and highly quotable, bringing poetry to the ordinary.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on October 2, 2014 Categories: Books

Staff Pick: A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans

Joyce Staff Picks photoIf you love nature and the outdoors then A Wolf Called Romeo by Nick Jans was written for you! It tells the incredible story of a black wolf who forgoes the life of the pack and seeks out contact with humans and their dogs near Juneau. It’s a moving, bittersweet read!

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on September 30, 2014 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Picks by Joyce, Staff Picks

National Book Award Longlists

Every fall the National Book Award is given in celebration of some of the best American literature. This month the longlists featuring ten finalists for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature were announced. The lists will be shortened to five finalists Wednesday, October 15 in anticipation of the final announcement Wednesday, November 19.

Check the books out and see if you can determine which ones will be the winners!

Fiction Longlist:

Cover of Station Eleven Cover of Redeployment Cover of An Unnecessary Woman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Redeployment by Phil Klay
An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

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All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Orfeo by Richard Powers
Thunderstruck and Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken

See what other fiction titles made the list.

Nonfiction Longlist:

Cover of Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Cover of Age of Ambition Cover of Heathen School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
Age of Ambition by Evan Osnos
The Heathen School by John Demos

See what other nonfiction titles made the list.

Young People’s Literature Longlist:

Cover of The Impossible Knife of Memory Cover of 100 Sideways Miles Cover of Girls Like Us

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

See what other young people’s titles made the list.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on September 26, 2014 Categories: Awards, Books, Nonfiction

Fiction: Feed by Mira Grant

Cover of FeedSet twenty years after the zombie apocalypse, Mira Grant introduces readers to a carefully constructed America in which zombies are a part of everyday life. Due to a lack of trust for traditional media, journalism has shifted to rely on guerrilla blog teams such as George, her brother Shaun, and their friend Buffy to provide information. The trio risks their own lives to successfully deliver news and entertainment to the world, and as a result they are chosen to follow Senator Paul Ryman as he begins a bumpy race for presidency. They quickly learn everything is not what it seems, and the constant threat of zombies doesn’t make anything easier. More of a thoughtful political thriller than an action-packed zombie novel, George and her team will do whatever it takes to uncover the truth. Feed is the first book in the Newsflash trilogy.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on September 25, 2014 Categories: Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

Book Discussion Questions: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are
highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

Cover of What Alice ForgotTitle: What Alice Forgot
Author: Liane Moriarty
Page Count: 487 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction, Women’s lives and relationships
Tone: Reflective, Humorous

 

1. Did reading What Alice Forgot lift your spirits up or bring them down?

2. Does the title represent the book well? Were you surprised the book wasn’t just about Alice?

3. Were you aware the book was set in Australia? Does it matter where it takes place?

4. How did Alice change in her 30s? Were they good changes, bad, or some of both?

5. Elisabeth acts as a primary tour guide of Alice’s life. How important is it for at least one person to have a good handle on what’s going on with you at any given moment?

6.What does Frannie have in common with Elisabeth and Alice?

7. How has Alice’s relationship with her mom growing up affected Alice’s role as a mother?

8. How is contemporary motherhood portrayed?

9. What does this book say about the effect having children and/or trying to conceive has on a marriage?

10. How are children portrayed in this book?

11. How have Alice’s relationships changed as she has gotten older? Do you think the changes in her relationships are natural?

12. Nick and Alice speculate they got married too young, do you agree or disagree?

13. Why was Alice drawn to Gina? In what ways was Gina a good friend and in what ways was she a poor choice?

14. Do you find it believable that Alice could be so strongly influenced by one friend?

15. If you could meet Alice at age 29, what advice would you tell her?

16. Why do you think the author chose the ages of 29 and 39?

17. What does Frannie’s story add to the book? Does it feel essential to the construction of novel?

18. What do you think about how Elisabeth is portrayed; did you enjoy reading her “homework”?

19. What type of balance ends up happening between Alice at age 29 and Alice at age 39?

20. In Elisabeth’s last piece of homework to Dr. Hodges (pg. 443), she supposes he and his wife might be “struggling with the problem of when is the right time to give up” – she offers a complicated answer. “We should have given up years ago” but also she “would go through it all again… Yes. Absolutely. Of course I would.” What do you think of this perspective? Is it realistic?

21. Do you like how the book ended? Do you like the glimpse into future of characters’ lives in the epilogue?

22. Has reading this book changed the way you think about anything?

23. What can a young person learn from reading What Alice Forgot? How about an older person?

 

Other Resources
Lit Lovers’ book discussion questions
Author to author interview with Liane Moriarty
Real Simple interview with Liane Moriarty
What Alice Forgot book club hosting ideas

 

If you liked What Alice Forgot, try…
Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella
Range of Motion by Elizabeth Berg
Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson

Cover of Remember Me?Cover of Range of MotionVocer of Before I Go to Sleep

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on September 24, 2014 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books

Staff Pick: Lost States by Michael J. Trinklein

Larry D. staff picks photoA short and fun read, Michael J. Trinklein describes unsuccessful proposals for new states in Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States That Never Made It. For each “state,” there is one page of easy, often witty, fact-filled narrative followed by a map illustrating what the state would have looked like. This is great for trivia and history buffs looking for some off-beat aspects of American history.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on September 23, 2014 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Picks by Larry, Staff Picks