Call Me Zebra

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Feb 6, 2018 - Fiction - 304 pages
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"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

"Ferociously intelligent...A tragicomic picaresque whose fervid logic and cerebral whimsy recall the work of Bolaño and Borges.”
The New York Times Book Review

From an award-winning young author, 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).

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Call Me Zebra

User Review  - Book Verdict

Escaping persecution and destruction during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, Zebra's parents flee their home in Iran. Zebra is born while they are en route to Turkey, and her father immediately begins ... Read full review

Call Me Zebra

User Review  - Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi - Publishers Weekly

In Oloomi’s rich and delightful novel (after Fra Keeler), 22-year-old Zebra is the last in a long line of “Autodidacts, Anarchists, Atheists” exiled from early ’90s Iran. Years after her family’s ... Read full review

Selected pages


The Story of My Fathers Death and Burial and the Consequent Formation of My Multiple Irregular Minds
The Story of How I Leapt into the Void of Exile and Became Entangled with Ludo Bembo the Embalmer of Words
The Story of the Creation of the Miniature Museum and My Cohabitation with Ludo Bembo
The Story of How I Oxygenated My Multiple Minds in the Verdant Valley of the Pyrenees and Engaged in a Socratic Dialogue with Nature
The Story of How I Traveled Across the Corridors of Exile in the Company of the Pilgrims of the Void
The Story of How I Traveled Across the Sea of Sunken Hopes
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About the author (2018)

AZAREEN VAN DER VLIET OLOOMI is the author of the novels Fra Keeler and Call Me Zebra, and an Assistant Professor in the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing at the University of Notre Dame. She is the winner of a 2015 Whiting Writers’ Award, a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree, and the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, as well as residency fellowships from MacDowell and Ledig House. Her work has appeared in the Paris Review, Guernica, Granta, BOMB, and elsewhere. She has lived in New York, Los Angeles, Tehran, Dubai, Valencia, Barcelona, and currently splits her time between South Bend, Indiana and Florence, Italy.

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