The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger's Wife Character List


Natalia is the novel's primary narrator, yet spends much of The Tiger's Wife describing her close relationship to her grandfather. Like her grandfather, Natalia studied to become a doctor; many sections of the narrative depict her charitable work in Brejevina, where she is supplying medicine to local children. At the time of these events, Natalia is an independent young medical professional and proves to be a very perceptive observer. Other sections of The Tiger's Wife, however, relate events from her childhood.

Natalia's Grandfather

A doctor by profession, Natalia's grandfather is both opinionated and accomplished: he saved an important political figure (the Marshall) from catastrophe, but also came under suspicion when his country was thrown into a state of political turmoil. He also has set habits (particularly his trips to the zoo) that are illuminated as the novel progresses. It is revealed that Natalia's grandfather grew up in the humble village of Galina, and that he was strongly impacted by two mysterious figures, the Tiger's Wife and the Deathless Man.

Natalia's Grandmother

Natalia's grandmother is solicitous, superstitious, and (like Natalia's grandfather) capable of being strong-willed. She is often seen from a distance in the novel, depicted mostly through flashbacks and from her phone calls to Natalia during the Brejevina trip.


Zora is Natalia's close friend and her companion on the trip to Brejevina. Both women have studied medicine, but Zora's willingness to challenge older, male medical authorities has repeatedly gotten her into trouble. It is revealed at the end of the novel that, despite her temper, Zora has found employment at a neurological institute in Zurich.

Nada and Barba Ivan

Nada and her husband Barba Ivan host Natalia and Zora in Brejevina. They are a generally pleasant couple with one surviving son, Fra Antun.

The Diggers

The diggers are a group of relatives: led to some extent by a man named Dure, they are trying to recover the remains of one of their kinsmen. Natalia observes that the diggers have neglected the health of the children in their party.

Gavran Gaile, or "Gavo," the Deathless Man

A man who remains perpetually young, and who encounters Natalia's grandfather on three separate occasions. Oddly courteous and pleasant in demeanor, the Deathless Man has survived multiple attempts on his life.

Mother Vera

The grandmother of Natalia's grandfather. She raises in him the small town of Galina.

The Apothecary of Galina

An ugly man of Muslim origin, and a figure who first inspires and then alienates Natalia's grandfather. He uses a trick to kill the Tiger's Wife, but is then executed himself (for unrelated reasons) during a state of warfare.


A sensitive man from Galina who, despite his love of music and his apparent homosexuality, takes up the trade of butcher and marries the Tiger's Wife. A lifetime of disappointment turns him into a brutal man, and he leaves Galina under mysterious circumstances.

The Tiger's Wife

A young woman of Muslim origin and the deaf-mute sister of Amana. While her disability keeps her actual name from ever being revealed, the Tiger's Wife is seen as a mysterious and intimidating figure by the people of Galina. (They believe that she murdered her husband, Luka, and is in league with the tiger that lives outside the village.) She eventually becomes pregnant, but is killed by the Apothecary before she can give birth.

Fra Antun

A man who works in the Brejevina monastery and is the son of Barba Ivan and Nada.

The Marshall

An important political figure. Natalia's grandfather gains a measure of fame when he saves the Marshall's life.

Hassan Effendi

A prosperous Muslim, and the father of both Amana and the Tiger's Wife.


A young woman of considerable sophistication who forms a bond with Luka, her fellow musician. However, Amana flees a possible marriage to him; her father, Hassan Effendi, consequently marries Luka to a second daughter, the Tiger's Wife.

Darisa the Bear

A famed hunter who is passionate about taxidermy. According to legend, Darisa is capable of transforming into a bear. It is believed that he is killed while fighting the Tiger of Galina.

Blind Orlo

A onetime member of a band of marauders, Blind Orlo accompanies the future apothecary of Galina on a series of misadventures.


The infirm sister of Darisa the Bear.