Additional Book Information
Publication Date: October 9, 2012
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.
A rare gem of a book that begs to be read again.
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
The risks this novel takes are numerous, and so are the rewards.
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.
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 César Aira, Thomas Bernhard, Luis Buñuel, 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.
—American Book Review
Ultimately, Fra Keeler’s preoccupation with thought and a mind’s unraveling reminds us that we’re each ensconced within our own mind, we’re stationed behind the window of our own perceptions, perhaps never truly knowing anything beyond ourselves. There’s something magical and mad in this.
—Music and Literature
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!
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.
Obsessive. Surreal. Darkly comic. Chilling.