This novel was more beautiful than I thought it would be. I heard about it through the New York Times Book Review and Oprah's magazine and was impressed that a first time novelist, at age 26, made such an impact. A well deserved impact.
I think what I liked best was the style she wrote in, how she left so many things unwritten and really did leave us without a lot of "facts". Everything feels like it's general except for the stories. I'm not sure that made sense....
Somewhere in the Balkans, we have no idea where, a doctor and her grandfather are introduced to us. From there, we follow both their paths via stories told to us from the past. The doctor, Natalia, explains to us how her grandfather always took her to the zoo to see the tigers. We end up back in her grandfather's village as he's growing up and learn about the Tiger's wife, a deaf-mute who has a special bond with a tiger that escaped from the zoo during the war. From there we travel with Natalia to another place where she is providing vaccinations to orphans and trying to find the place her grandfather died to get his belongings. The back to stories of her grandfather's encounter with the "deathless man" who Natalia is sure she is going to meet as well.
As jumbled as my telling of this is, trust me that the book weaves everything together in to one seamless, beautiful story of doctors, death and tigers.