‘I Put 1,400 Pages in the Trash.’ The Tiger’s Wife Author Téa Obreht on Killing Two Books to Create Her New Novel

By Belinda Luscombe

For someone convinced that nothing lies beyond the grave, Téa Obreht brings a lot of stuff back from the dead. The living and the unliving mingle in her books like uneasy teens at a party, half recognizing each other, uncertain of what they have in common. She’s fascinated by history, particularly that which has been forgotten. And more literally, her latest book, Inland, contains some of the undead remains of the almost two whole books she wrote, but never finished, after her 2011 smash best seller The Tiger’s Wife.

“I threw 1,400 pages in the trash,” says Obreht, 33, sitting on an unreliable chair in the windowless room she shares with two other adjunct professors at Hunter College in New York City. For a novelist about whom TIME critic Mary Pols wrote, “Not since Zadie Smith has a young writer arrived with such power and grace,” it’s a remarkably modest office, just the place to talk about those discarded drafts with struggling students. “It felt like failure a lot,” she says. “But then I realized it was just a different way of measuring progress, that I was opening doors and realizing there was nothing in the room and …read more