Thursday, 23 May 2019

Farzaneh and the Moon - Matt Wilven

I haven’t written a book review in a while. In fact, it’s been over a year. Wow. It’s not that I’m not reading – I’ve managed around 20 books since – but with the dwindling amount of time I have available to dedicate to this space, theatre has taken precedence. However, having reviewed and adored his first novel, The Blackbird Singularity, I couldn’t turn down the chance to join Legend Press's blog tour for Matt Wilven’s new book.

Despite their differing settings and characters, the two novels hold significant similarities; both convey a character struggling with grief to the point where they become obsessive and arguably hallucinatory over an object of nature. Philosophical thinking also holds a substantial presence in the two, and although this element was weaved into the narrative of his first novel with considered precision, its presence in Farzaneh and the Moon feels a little more clunky and confrontational.

Our narrator, N, is a philosophy student. As he tries to navigate his way as a student in London, N becomes fascinated and eventually involved with the charismatic but deeply troubled Farzaneh. While the two are getting to know one another, the pace and dialogue is skilfully intriguing, but as Farzaneh develops an obsession with the moon and begins to deteriorate both physically and mentally, the novel becomes a murkier and more trying read.

While it’s increasingly tricky to connect and empathise with the two protagonists due to their often frustrating philosophical disputes and manipulative ways, Wilven powerfully evokes the claustrophobic atmosphere of their relationship. As Farzaneh loses touch with reality and N loses any notion of his own identity outside of caring for her, the fog that clouds their judgement and their sense of extreme detachment from the world around them become your own.

There are some beautiful passages and sound ideas in the novel, but it sadly doesn’t have the same balance of clarity and metaphor that made The Blackbird Singularity such an enthralling read. Having said that, I very much look forward to reading whatever Wilven produces next.

*I was gifted this book in exchange for a review, but all words and opinions are my own.


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