Fiction. A man purchases a house, the house of Fra Keeler, moves in, and begins investigating the circumstances of the latter's death. Yet the investigation quickly turns inward, and the reality it seeks to unravel seems only to grow more strange, as the narrator pursues not leads but lines of thought, most often to hideous conclusions.
Whiting Award Winner, 2015
2015 National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" Honoree
"Obsessive. Surreal. Darkly comic. Chilling."—Robert Coover
"Obsessive/delightful, FRA KEELER subtly elaborates on life's details, its ordinary lunacies. Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi's observations are droll and often hilarious. Her novel's incidents pile up and on, tilting and shifting under the weight of language's bizarre disturbances. FRA KEELER is wonderfully imaginative, the work of a terrific young writer."—Lynne Tillman
"Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is the descendent of writers as brilliant and disparate as Max Frisch, Alain Robbe-Grillet and Per Petterson. FRA KEELER is a compelling and humorously associative meditation on how 'one lives against one's dying,' and how that living will be in contra-distinction to all that explains that death on paper after its fact. Would that more book groups read books of this complexity and intelligence; discussion would reach on into the wee hours!"—Michelle Latiolais
"In FRA KEELER a mind churns on itself, while reality—if it is reality—comes rushing at it with a strange stutter, everything a bit lost, a bit off, and ready to be ground up further by the uncertain perception of the narrator. This is a book by turns funny and strange, but always entertaining."—Brian Evenson
"Oloomi enters so fully and sympathetically into the mad logic of her narrator that scenic detail, chronology, cause and effect, and even such mundane props as cactus, mailman, and ringing phone are bent, doubled, or subsumed by the paranoid geometries of meaning he draws... Subtly menacing, but not without humor, the novel derives momentum and tension from the space between its clear, intelligent language and the absolute unreliability of its narrator."—Slate
"A rare gem of a book that begs to be read again."—Publishers Weekly
"Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi writes sentences that are crisp and formal, but the madness they depict is anything but. Her ambition, to take you inside a completely unreliable narrator, still manages to create a rare and strong narrative drive. Controlled yet bizarre, it pulls you in."—Whiting Award Judges
"You ask: What sort of fiction are we reading here? Anticipating just this question, on her 'Acknowledgments' page, Oloomi provides a checklist of books and films that she says made this work 'possible': works by Cesar Aira, Thomas Bernhard, Luis Bunuel, Nikolai Gogol, Alfred Hitchcock, and Clarice Lispector, to name only a handful from her inventory of what one could call the 'literature of madness,' if 'madness' were not so reductive a term for the complexities to which FRA KEELER pays tribute."—Gerald Bruns
Author City: SOUTH BEND, IN USA
This title is also available as an ebook. Buy it directly from your favorite ebook provider.
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is an Iranian-American writer of fiction and nonfiction. She received her MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University, and is a recipient of a Fulbright Grant to Catalonia, Spain, as well as the 2015 Whiting Award for Fiction. She is co-author of the Words Without Borders dispatch series ArtistsTalk: Israel/Palestine and is at work on a second project entitled The Catalan Literary Landscape, an exploration of notions of journey and the intersections between landscape and literature. She currently teaches in the MFA program at Notre Dame University and lives in Indiana with her husband.
Reviews and Other Links
Sessily Watt @ Bookslut
excerpt @ The Collagist
Jenny Hendrix @ Los Angeles Times
D. H. Varma @ The Quarterly Conversation
Gerald L. Bruns @ American Book Review
Jenny Hendrix @ Slate
Lindsey Drager @ Diagram
Anne K. Yoder @ Music & Literature
Matthew Jakubowski @ The Millions