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Call Me Zebra (2018)

por Azareen van der Vliet Oloomi

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
2039133,474 (3.07)30
"From an award-winning young author, a novel following a feisty heroine's idiosyncratic quest to reclaim her past by mining the wisdom of her literary icons--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."--… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 9 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
I’m glad I reread this, I liked it better this time. It’s not an easy book to read or to love, but I appreciated the decidedly offbeat humor much more this time, particularly early on:
I told him that my ill-fated ancestors and I had survived death through our intimate engagement with literature. Then, I thought to myself, engagement is too mild a word, so I replaced it with refuge. I said, “We, the ill-fated, have taken refuge in literature.” But this description also failed to communicate a sufficient level of intensity. With a hint of violence, I added: “Hear me! We have pitched our tattered tents in the dark forests of literature!”

Zebra is... a lot. She’s a lot! Obsessed, over the top, heedless of anyone else’s feelings, deeply wounded. The repetitive philosophizing that also wore me down the first time still was there this time, though I didn’t mind it quite so much now, and the pathos of Zebra struggling to accept that she needs love in a cruel universe of meaningless suffering, near the end of the book, was more affecting.

So, better!
————
Slap me with a pickle, this is in the upcoming Tournament of Books. I’ll try it again.

——
Oloomi writes with such an air of unreality. Her debut novel took place within the mind of a madman and this, her second, continues its repetitive, circling patterns. Not for me. ( )
  lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
To be honest, I found this difficult and sometimes grating. But that was all a part of it, and the more unlikeable our subject the more empathy I had for her. This is a heartbreaking exploration of how it is to process emotions through your intellect and to construct and deconstruct defenses against trauma. Well worth it, if only to consider how Zebra would be received as a person with more privilege and what that says about, about everything. I should write a more thoughtful review; instead, I'll read others.
( )
  Kiramke | Jun 27, 2023 |
Zebra, after the deaths of her parents and life in war-torn Iran, is traumatized and compensates for her feelings of 'otherness' by developing a superiority complex. She's a comic creation and the reader won't find her entirely sympathetic in her dismissal of 99.9% of humanity. But I enjoyed her take on things and the humour in the book. It's not really one for the casual reader though, nor for those not overly fond of books, as she quotes liberally from world literature. I enjoyed Oloomi's very inventive writing style, in her description and use of image. Story lost a bit of impetus in second half though and became a bit repetitive. ( )
  Kevinred | Jul 14, 2021 |
This was both impressive and slow. I liked what Van der Vliet Oloomi was trying to do here, I appreciated her work, it was funny, it was smart, but it was unfortunately for me challengingly boring.
  Latkes | Aug 25, 2019 |


As a young girl, Zebra fled Iran with her father. The journey from their once comfortable, book-filled home to their eventual haven in a small New York apartment is a difficult one. After her father's death, Zebra decides to make the same journey in reverse, revisiting the places they traveled through on their way to America. Her first destination is Barcelona, where she meets an Italian professor, and changes her plans.

I've been examining my response to this book and trying to determine what factors caused me to hate it so very much. Sure, the writing was turgid and ponderous, with no noun left unmolested by a pair of adjectives, no sentence left without ample decoration, yet I love Victorian Lit, which tends towards embellished prose. Sure, the protagonist was just the worst, a self-involved pedant who spends the entirety of the novel treating others like things, stealing from them while contemptuously thinking about how much better she is than everyone else, but I do like novels about unlikeable characters, even the ones who are so without redeeming qualities that the reader spends the novel hoping to see them get what they deserve. There's a pretentiousness to the writing that feels unearned, names are dropped without much rhyme or reason, but this normally would not get more than an occasional eye-roll from me.

I don't know why I disliked this book so much. It's gotten some good reviews and, hey, it was published in the first place, so people more knowledgeable than myself clearly see something in it. Maybe read it for yourself and then come tell me what I missed. ( )
  RidgewayGirl | Feb 13, 2019 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 9 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
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Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Azareen van der Vliet Oloomiautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Buck, LeilaNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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However many beings there are in whatever realms of being might exist, whether they are born from an egg or born from a womb, born from the water or born from the air, whether they have form or no form, whether they have perception or no perception or neither perception or no perception, in whatever conceivable realm of being one might conceive of beings, in the realm of complete nirvana I shall liberate them all. And though I thus liberate countless beings, not a single being is liberated.    --The Diamond Sutra
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For all my dead relatives    --Zebra
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Illiterates, abecedarians, elitists, rodents all -- I will tell you this: I, Zebra, born Bibi Abbas Abbas Hosseini on a scorching August day in 1982, am a descendent of a long line of self-taught men who repeatedly abandoned their capital, Tehran, where blood has been washed with blood for a hundred years, to take refuge in Nowshahr, in the languid, damp regions of Mazandaran.
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"From an award-winning young author, a novel following a feisty heroine's idiosyncratic quest to reclaim her past by mining the wisdom of her literary icons--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."--

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