Saturday 16 January 2021

Book Review: Savage Tongues by Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi (Contemporary Fiction)

Title: Savage Tongues
Author: Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: 3 August 2021
Pages: 288
eBook - PDF
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

It’s summer when Arezu, an Iranian American teenager, goes to Spain to meet her estranged father at an apartment he owns there. He never shows up, instead sending her a weekly allowance, care of his step-nephew, Omar, a forty-year-old Lebanese man. As the weeks progress, Arezu is drawn into a mercurial, charged, and ultimately catastrophic affair with Omar, a relationship that shatters her just at the cusp of adulthood.

Two decades later, Arezu inherits the apartment. She returns with her best friend, Ellie, an Israeli-American scholar devoted to the Palestinian cause, to excavate the place and finally put to words a trauma she’s long held in silence. Together, she and Ellie catalog the questions of agency, sexuality, displacement, and erasure that surface as Arezu confronts the ghosts of that summer, crafting between them a story that spans continents and centuries.


Savage Tongues is a book that covers several themes, the principal of which are predatory romance and living in the West as someone from the Middle East. The story allowed some interesting and thoughtful commentary on those two points; however, it didn't have enough space to fully elaborate on the second, and the first felt a little overdone at times. I could relate to Azeru in some ways, and I wanted to feel compassion for her, but now and again her unrelenting self-pity made me want to tell her to pull herself together. Overall, though, this was an enjoyable read, with lyrical prose that really drew you into the moment with the characters. It was my first time reading this author, but I would definitely pick up another of her books in the future. Try Savage Tongues is you like thought-provoking and emotional fiction. For me it was a 3.5-star read that I would round up to four stars, rather than down to three.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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