Defining one’s own identity, understanding the self and the other, searching for the meaning of life and freedom in the state of society – these are the questions that have challenged our minds over the centuries, from Plato to Kant, from the middle ages to liberalism, from imperialism to democracy. And even today we find ourselves wandering around the same concepts, unable to grasp their meaning or find the answers to the questions that our predecessors longed to investigate yet failed to comprehend. Matt Wilven’s novel Farzaneh and the Moon reflects the individual’s ongoing need to find their meaning and identity in the context of modern society all while exploring their brightest and darkest selves.
The reader is absorbed by the flow of the story as the narrator goes through various revelations. As a philosophy student, he is passionate about investigating the big questions about the world and himself. Dynamic London provides him with multiple opportunities to pursue his interest in philosophy while experimenting with drugs, relationships, adrenaline rushes and intimacy. This psychological transformation and dynamic process of youth is relatable to any reader. Following the narrator’s path as he deals with existential questions and mundane life flow brings out the reader’s own experiences and memories.
As the plot develops, Wilven presents an important theme that pervades the novel: how disconnected from our nature the modern system and lifestyle have made us. The author demonstrates that a system where individuals sell their labour and time often encourages them to work on developing their skills and not their ideas or thoughts. And in this context, where division has become a habit of thinking, even those who consider themselves to be rebels, like hippies or ravers, fall into this pattern of further disconnectedness. Instead of seeing humanity as one, they isolate themselves from others and the world. However, the way the characters deal with their disconnectedness from the world is somehow unique.
The biggest takeaway from this novel is the narrator’s dilemma, representing an internal battle familiar to many in this modern world. Farzaneh – the love of his life, provides him with the example of determination and desire to reconnect with the world. On the other hand, he has a well-paid job, friends, a career plan and all the other mundane aspects of a life in Britain. But he struggles to choose between the two. The love for London life, and ability to pay the price with his time and labour to stay part of this dynamic, demanding city conflicts with the appealing desire of finding the deep truth and the answers to the questions that have been bothering him throughout his conscious life.
That said, the novel is a very enjoyable read. It is easy to relate to, especially as a student. However, the author suggests a very strange solution to the presented dilemma that culminates in an even stranger ending, leaving the reader with ambivalent feelings.
Image: Legend Press