The press reception has been good. The poet Charles Simic wrote in The New York Review of Books giving his endorsement to the view that "this is a remarkable first novel." He went on to say: "Téa Obreht is an extraordinarily talented writer, skilled at combining different types of narrative — from objective depiction of events to stories mixing the fabulous and the real — in a way that brings to mind the novels of Mikhail Bulgakov, Gabriel García Márquez, and Milorad Pavić, the Serbian author of Dictionary of the Khazars. According to the New Zealand Herald, "Reviewers have praised Obreht's vibrant imagery and skilful interweaving of fact and folklore, ritual and superstition. British paper the Sunday Times dubbed her 'a compelling new voice'; its rival the Daily Telegraph 'a natural born storyteller'." New York Times reviewer Liesl Schillinger praised the novel, saying it was "filled with astonishing immediacy and presence, fleshed out with detail that seems firsthand."
The Tiger's Wife won the prestigious British Orange Prize for Fiction in 2011. The annual prize, recognising "excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing from throughout the world", then included £30,000 cash and the "Bessie", a limited edition bronze figurine. At 25 years, 9 months when the prize was announced, Obreht was the youngest winner (1996–2012).
Late in 2011 Obreht was a finalist for the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction and the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize for English-language writers age 18 to 30. The Tiger's Wife was a New York Times Bestseller that year.