I am struggling hard to finish this book. I am telling everyone not to bother finishing the books they don’t enjoy… yet, being somewhat OCD myself, i do tend to finish those i started reading, albeit oftentimes it feels like something has been persistently and obstinately sucking my blood, that’s how tedious and draining it gets.
That’s why i love the times i spend in Moscow – long, boring rides in the tube are the best way to make progress with the books that give you this feeling… The thing is that right now i am home in Montenegro, there is no tube and you get more or less everywhere you need to be in fifteen minutes or so. On foot, that is.
There is no bloody way i’d ever finish Llosa’s The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta wasn’t it for 1h long rides from Yugo-Zapadnaya tube stop, where i live, to the downtown Moscow’s Kabbalah Center… 1h each way, that is.
Also, there is no bloody way that Mario Vargas Llosa would ever win a Nobel, was he such a lousy writer as he comes across in Serbian translation… The thing is that the text is so full of bad grammatical mistakes and the choice of words – so awful, that it made me decide never again to read translations… unless they are made by fellow writers with a keen ear for wording.
Anyway, back to The Tiger’s Wife. Amazingly, the book was received greatly in US and somewhat mildly in Serbia, where Tea Olbreht is originally from.
Here is the NY Times review:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/books/review/book-review-the-tigers-wife-by-tea-obreht.html?pagewanted=all
The book won the prestigious (?) Orange prize. Some say it’s too politicized, which i tend to believe, as most prizes indeed are, including the very Nobel (or at least that’s how the saying goes.)
The Guardian quotes AS Byatt:”The Orange prize is a sexist prize [...] You couldn’t found a prize for male writers. The Orange prize assumes there is a feminine subject matter – which I don’t believe in. It’s honourable to believe that – there are fine critics and writers who do – but I don’t.” (By the way, neither do i.)
To me personally ‘no-men-allowed’ award is silly, as if women writers aren’t good enough to compete alongside their male counterparts for… for a Booker, let’s say.
(Promise to translate my own interview for Montenegrin “Vijesti” newspaper, where i expand on the topic.)
But, i digress.Tea Obreht‘s writing style does have all the political correctness it takes, at least from the “foreign” (to Balkans) point of view.
Here is one of the harsher reviews, by mr Aleksandra Djuricic: http://www.kisobranblog.org/?p=3855
Actually, the above review is one of the very few in Serbian media where the critic made an effort to come up with a genuine review – most of the others is mere translating of reviews published in US magazines.
Now, some may sense between the lines the resentment that exceeds by far a critical reception of somebody’s first novel – it’s a way bigger implication and it’s (veiled, by still) critic aimed at US foreign policies and the infamous, un-sanctioned 1999 bombing of ex-Yugoslavia during the Kosovo war.
Mr (denoting the academic title here) Djuricic points out that Tea Obreht starts with assumption of how the West sees Balkans and that the very literature pattern is borrowed from Hispano-American writers, on which i tend to agree.
I disagree that Obreht mocks things considered holy in Balkans – her putting the words of a patriotic song to parrot’s ‘mouth’ to me is simply yet another ‘trick’ borrowed from Hispano-Americans…
But the truth is that Obreht doesn’t know Balkans and that is strongly felt by anyone native to the area who reads her book… the names, the toponyms, the descriptions of local landscape, the foods, the transport of humanitarian aid – those have hardly anything to do with Balkans, the latter sounding more as an recount of a documentary on Darfur, as seen on tv, than anything that was actually happening here… or could have happened.
What bothers me personally is not even the dirty laundry that’s being capitalized on, it’s been done many times before, the thing is that others who did it at least wore that laundry for a while, if you know what i mean.
As much as Marina Abramovic or Emir Kusturica get criticized for mocking Balkan traditions and believes – at least they are doing it from ‘first-hand’ experience so to say, at least it’s their own tradition they ridicule or scrutinize, at least they lived here and were part of it for quite some time… Tea Obreht has not, and it’s painfully obvious from her writing.
Don’t get me wrong, i am more than happy for anyone who makes it in the big world – or here per that matter, i really am.
The book is certainly of value, as all those people praising it are obviously neither insane nor illiterate.
Personally, i think it is awesome writing for the first novel – but…
What bothers me is that i am stuck on page 136 of ‘The Tiger’s Wife’ and to me it’s boring to death… In that view, all of the above is merely my own excuse to my own self that, as OCD as i am, i am going to let go this book and won’t bother finishing it.
- Abandoned Book – The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht (swampofboredom.com)
- Book Discussion: The Tiger’s Wife: a novel by Tea Obreht (alleganylibrarycollections.wordpress.com)
- Agree to Disagree (sincerelymsamy.wordpress.com)
- The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht: difficult but gripping (winewomenandword.wordpress.com)