Subject to Change Book Club: "Call Me Zebra" by Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi
Subject to Change is a reading list of Coming-Of-Age Stories and anything that fits or fights the category. Meeting once a month to discuss this literature of becoming.
This month the club will be discussing Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi.
Zebra is the last in a line of anarchists, atheists, and autodidacts. Alone and in exile, she leaves New York for Barcelona, retracing the journey she and her father made from Iran to the United States years ago. Books are her only companions--until she meets Ludo. Their connection is magnetic, and fraught. They push and pull across the Mediterranean, wondering if their love--or lust--can free Zebra from her past. Starring a heroine as quirky as Don Quixote, as brilliant as Virginia Woolf, as worldly as Miranda July, and as spirited as Lady Bird, Call Me Zebra is "hilarious and poignant, painting a magnetic portrait of a young woman you can't help but want to know more about" (Harper's Bazaar).
What Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts did for gender and sexuality, Call Me Zebra does for the experience of exile, deftly threading the narrative with theory while also using theory to pull the reader in. Though Call Me Zebra happens to be fiction, both books are stuffed with complex ideas made irresistible and lyric...Van der Vliet Oloomi sets herself the tall task of writing a precocious narrator, a self-proclaimed 'expert connoisseur of literature, ' a narrative path that's littered with prospective pitfalls. In less capable hands, this could easily be annoying or unconvincing, but Zebra is unvaryingly brilliant and deadpan funny...One of the greatest components of Call Me Zebra is how funny it is... Call Me Zebra also features quietly devastating moments when Zebra's emotional defenses fall away, when we are reminded that because of tyranny, war, and poverty, she has been left entirely alone to process her family's eradication from the earth... Zebra is the smartest narrator you will encounter this year. -- Los Angeles Review of Books
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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