Most Anticipated from: Entertainment Weekly, Boston Globe, Harper's Bazaar, Nylon, Fast Company, Bitch, The Millions, Bustle, Electric Literature, Hello Giggles, Vol. 1 Brooklyn,Shondaland, Publishers Weekly, and Read It Forward
“Once in a while a singular, adventurous and intellectually humorous voice appears that takes us on an inescapable journey. Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s ‘Call Me Zebra’ is a library within a library, a Borges-esque labyrinth of references from all cultures and all walks of life. In today’s visual Netflix world, Van der Vliet Oloomi’s novel performs at the highest of levels in accomplishing only what the written novel can show us. —The PEN/FAULKNER AWARD JUDGES via The Washington Post
A novel following a feisty heroine’s quest to reclaim her past through the power of literature—even as she navigates the murkier mysteries of love.
Zebra is the last in a line of anarchists, atheists, and autodidacts. When war came, her family didn’t fight; they took refuge in books. Now alone and in exile, Zebra leaves New York for Barcelona, retracing the journey she and her father made from Iran to the United States years ago.
Books are Zebra’s only companions—until she meets Ludo. Their connection is magnetic; their time together fraught. Zebra overwhelms him with her complex literary theories, her concern with death, and her obsession with history. He thinks she’s unhinged; she thinks he’s pedantic. Neither are wrong; neither can let the other go. They push and pull their way across the Mediterranean, wondering with each turn if their love, or lust, can free Zebra from her past.
An adventure tale, a love story, and a paean to the power of language and literature starring a heroine as quirky as Don Quixote, as introspective as Virginia Woolf, as whip-smart as Miranda July, and as spirited as Frances Ha, Call Me Zebra will establish Van der Vliet Oloomi as an author “on the verge of developing a whole new literature movement” (Bustle).
"Ferociously intelligent....With intricacy and humor, Van der Vliet Oloomi relays Zebra’s brainy, benighted struggles as a tragicomic picaresque whose fervid logic and cerebral whimsy recall the work of Bolaño and Borges." --Liesl Schillinger, New York Times Book Review
"Van der Vliet Oloomi resists the standard redemption arc, infusing her protagonist with a darkly comic neuroticism." -The New Yorker
"Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is a new breed of erudite, conceptually ambitious authors...Above and beyond the sociopolitical undercurrent, Call Me Zebra is about the dead we love and communicate with each time we open a book (or access a memory).” San Francisco Chronicle
"Van der Vliet Oloomi captures the shattered identity of the refugee and the immigrant, the way that literature becomes a lifeline in exile: a movable home, a network of dissent, a genealogy beyond national borders."- LA REVIEW OF BOOKS
"Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is a new breed of erudite, conceptually ambitious authors...Above and beyond the sociopolitical undercurrent, “Call Me Zebra” is about the dead we love and communicate with each time we open a book (or access a memory).” San Francisco Chronicle
**READ "THE EXILES OF AZAREEN VAN DER VLIET OLOOMI" A PROFILE BY ZAHRA HANKIR ON LITHUB
**MIDDAY ON WNYC/NPR WITH JAMI FLOYD OF "ALL THINGS CONSIDERED": AN IRANIAN-AMERICAN'S GRAND TOUR OF EXILE
**READ an excerpt of CALL ME ZEBRA HERE.
Named a Most Anticipated Title of 2018 by iBooks, Amazon Book Review, Book Riot, Bustle, PW, Nylon Magazine, Happy Giggle, The Millions, The Boston Globe, Bitch Media, Amazon, Chicago Review of Books, LitHub, Entertainment Weekly, Harper's Bazaar, Elle Magazine, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and Paperback Paris. One of The National Book Review's "5 Hot Books." One of Electric Literature's "46 Books by Women of Color to Read in 2018" and one of Bustle's "11 Books by Women of Color Everyone Needs to Read." An Amazon's #1 New Release in Absurdist Fiction and an Amazon Top 10 Pick for February.
"This book will blow you away. Call Me Zebra is likely to be every book nerd’s bizarre dream." —BUSTLE
"This is a brilliant, demented, and bizarro book that demands and rewards all the attention a reader might dare to give it." —KIRKUS, Starred Review
"Hearken ye fellow misfits, migrants, outcasts, squint-eyed bibliophiles, library-haunters and book stall-stalkers: Here is a novel for you." —THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
"Not many authors are compared to Borges, Cervantes, and Kathy Acker all in one breath, but that is exactly what we're dealing with here: Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is a twisted, twisty genius...[CALL ME ZEBRA] is a wild, trippy ride." —NYLON MAGAZINE
"Rich and delightful...crackles throughout with wit and absurdity...a sharp and genuinely fun picaresque, employing humor and poignancy side by side to tell an original and memorable story." —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Starred Review
"A major work on the importance of literature." —THE BOSTON GLOBE
"What Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts did for gender and sexuality, Call Me Zebra does for the experience of exile." —THE LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS
"[CALL ME ZEBRA] is for every human whose first love in life will always be literature...A beautiful depiction of first love, legacy, and our desire to feel connected to where (and who) we come from." —SHONDALAND
"Acerbic wit and a love of literature color this picaresque novel...By turns, hilarious and poignant, painting a magnetic portrait of a young woman you can't help but want to know more about." —HARPER'S BAZAAR
"CALL ME ZEBRA is a novel in the best sense of the word. It's filtered entirely through an idiosyncratic mind, who thinks in sentences that are sharp and smart and utterly ridiculou." —REFINERY29
"A sexy complicated affair...geopolitically savvy."—ELLE MAGAZINE
"Splendidly eccentric...Hearken ye fellow misfits, migrants, outcasts, squint-eyed bibliophiles, library-haunters and book stall-stalkers: Here is a novel for you.” —Wall Street Journal
ADVANCE PRAISE FOR CALL ME ZEBRA:
"Zebra is exile as education, history as passion, life as literature, and literature as death." —TOM MCCARTHY
"This fierce meditation, a heady review of literature and philosophy as well as a love story, is a tour de force from the author of Fra Keeler that many will read and reread." —LIBRARY JOURNAL
"Extravagant...an arresting exploration of grief alongside a powder keg of a romance."—BOOKLIST
"Filled with literature, art and sex, Call Me Zebra is rambling and picaresque, as quirky and funny as its rambunctious narrator. Call Me Zebra is a grand story, but as Zebra describes herself when looking in a mirror, it is also "as troubling as literature, as disquieting as language itself."—SHELF AWARENESS
“This novel is not about a zebra but about a whole sharp, amazing, malicious and wicked zoo. Please enjoy responsibly.” —QUIM MONZO
"Call Me Zebra is a book about everything—exile, love, loss, literary theory, the insouciance of time, the history of Iran, funerary rites, and the idiosyncrasies and intricacies of the mind. In the main character, Zebra, we receive ‘a scribe of the future,’ one who can synthesize great swathes of literature, history, and politics to produce insights that transcend categorization, insights that illuminate existence, its ascending flights and horrors.Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, the author of Call Me Zebra, has written a marvelous book that is at once contemporary, in conversation with fiction writers such as Valeria Luiselli and Rachel Kushner, and simultaneously reaches back to the eccentric talkers and characters in the work of Vladimir Nabokov and Italo Svevo. Call Me Zebra risks the grand, the large, the sublime as a means of answering the questions we speak only to ourselves when we think no one is listening." —ROGER REEVES
"A penniless orphaned refugee, Zebra knows she can count on two things: literature and death. She builds a fortress out of both, surviving on fury, on memories and manifestos, until life begins to break through. Can Zebra handle life? Can literature handle Zebra? Reader, go find out! Call Me Zebra is like nothing else I've read, geo-political and bookish and sexy, quite refreshingly nuts and yet a ripping good read. Also, there's a stolen bird! I'd say I couldn't put it down, but Zebra would never approve a cliche, so I'll pay it a compliment she might actually accept: this book metabolized me." —DANIELLE DUTTON
"There’s something really radical about this epic and ecstatic quest. It’s in the tradition of Cervantes’ ingenious nobleman, but also deeply in conversation with Borges’s Pierre Menard and Kathy Acker’s own Don Quixote. The young female narrator of Call Me Zebra luxuriates in the tradition of Enrique Vila-Matas’s literary sickness, or Kafka writing that he is made entirely of literature. A hilarious picaresque, perverse and voracious."
"A love letter to literature...a thoughtful meditation on family and love." —READ IT FORWARD
"It’s difficult to pull off both depth and wit, but Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi masters both in Call Me Zebra." —BITCH MEDIA
"This is a miss your stop on the subway and ignore your to-do list kind of book.” —MICHELE FILGATE, LITHUB