Author Earns Her Stripes on First Try

Jp-book-1300128840433-articleInline-v2 Charles McGrath in the NYT:

Téa Obreht is just 25, and “The Tiger’s Wife” is her first book. It is also the first book ever sold by her agent, Seth Fishman, who is 30, and the second book bought by her editor, Noah Eaker, who was 26 when he acquired it and, strictly speaking, still an editorial assistant.

“We were all very new,” Ms. Obreht said recently, “and we were excited to find each other.” They might want to consider retirement, quitting while they’re ahead, because the kind of good fortune they are enjoying right now may never come their way again.

Ms. Obreht was included in The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list of young fiction authors last summer and “The Tiger’s Wife” was subsequently excerpted in the magazine. On Sunday, the book made the cover of The New York Times Book Review. Just about everywhere, it has received the sort of reviews that many writers wait an entire career for. In The Times on Friday, Michiko Kakutani called it ‘“hugely ambitious, audaciously written.”

Set in an unnamed Balkan country in the aftermath of a civil war, “The Tiger’s Wife” is narrated by a young physician named Natalia Stefanovic, whose beloved grandfather, also a doctor, has recently died. The story links her efforts in the present to deliver vaccines to children in an orphanage with elaborate folk tales her grandfather used to tell: one involves a deaf and mute woman, abused by her husband, who befriends an escaped tiger in the woods, and another is about a vampirelike character known as the Deathless Man, himself immortal, who brings death to others.