Fra Keeler


In Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s debut novel Fra Keeler, 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.

Read reviews of Fra Keeler in the LA TimesThe MillionsMusic & LiteratureDIAGRAM, and Bookslut. Read an excerpt in The Collagist. Read an interview with Azareen at Monkeybicycle.

"Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi writes sentences that are crisp and formal, but the madness they depict is anything but.  Her ambition of taking you inside a completely unreliable narrator never compromises her strong narrative drive. Controlled yet bizarre, it pulls you in. The judges admired her courage and formal daring, and the underpinnings of discipline that allow words to recur like waves on the shore while always seeming new.” WHITING WRITERS' AWARD SELECTION COMMITTEE

"A rare gem of a book that begs to be read again. A surrealist triumph."  PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"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

“Obsessive. Surreal. Darkly comic. Chilling.” ROBERT COOVER

“A stunning psychological thriller.” LOS ANGELES TIMES

"Fra Keeler is mysterious, experimental, and surreal. [Van der Vliet Oloomi] might just be on the verge of developing a whole new literary movement." BUSTLE

"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 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." GERALD BRUNS

"Fra Keeler disturbs, distorts, and disrupts the reader's way of seeing." DINAW MENGESTU

Fra Keeler firmly establishes Van der Vliet Oloomi in the tradition of writers like Nikolai Gogol, Clarice Lispector, Witold Gombrowicz, and Cesar Aira.”  THE COFFIN FACTORY

"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

"Fra Keeler reminded me of Rivka Galchen’s Atmospheric Disturbances, Roberto Bolaño's The Third Reich, and Jean-Philippe Toussaint's Reticence, not to mention big classics like Lolita." THE MILLIONS

"Fra Keeler is wonderfully imaginative, the work of a terrific young writer." LYNNE TILLMAN

"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