The critical session on Dariush Mehrjooyi's second novel, "Dar Kharabat-e Moqan" was held on Tuesday evening (August 21st) at the Book City Center with the presence of Amir Ali Nojoumian, Shiva Moqanlou, Dariush Mehrjooyi, and Ali Asghar Mohammadkhani.
At the beginning Nojoumian asserted that the review of this novel could not be achieved disregarding the author's name who is a director. In fact there is an intertextual relationship between this work and Mehrjooyi's other cinematic works.
He added: "The narrative structure reminds me of Salinger's Catcher in the Rye where we have a character and a main narrator who speak of their selves and society. This is a tradition in American literature – a tradition that began with the Huckleberry Fin. Such a tradition is unprecedented in Persian and is only meaningful in the American context. Here we find the character of Mahmoud Maleki who, like the character of Catcher in the Rye, is in the flux period and in conflict with his society."
He went on: "The main conflict in the story is faith. Maleki constantly asks himself about the reason for his existence in the world. This has led to the appearance of the character as a fantasy or parody character. In my opinion the work is not meant to be a comedy but the status of a fanatical Muslim in the anti-Muslim atmosphere of the United States has led to this comic condition."
Emphasizing on the features of the novel in terms of migration literature, he added: "This is a read-for-shoot text very similar to a film script because the author has made little use of literary figures. This is a weak point in the novel."
Then Mohammadkhani said that the center has been attempting to approximate cinema and other arts with philosophy and literature. Therefore, Mahrjooyi's experiences could be interesting in this regard.
Mehrjooyi's translation of The Holographic World has reached 25th reprint while his first novel has been reprinted four times. Is the good sale a result of his name as a filmmaker or will they last for their own literary values?
He went on to explain that 'love and faith' and 'modernity and tradition' are the main features of Mehrjooyi's films. Mysticism is another characteristic of his narratives. Mehrjooyi is familiar with Islamic philosophy and mysticism and this should be a result of his friendship with Professor Dariush Shayegan and his reading of Henry Corbin.
Then Mehrjooyi replied that writing has always been his obsession and he has written most of his scripts himself. He added that one cannot always make a film as the novel has more possibilities as a medium. For instance the making of "Dar Kharabat-e Moqan" is very difficult and costly.
The next speaker was Shiva Moqanlou mentioned some weak and good points of the novel including the narrator and the cinematic mind of the writer. According to her, the main weak point of the novel is lack of an internal montage that has led to instances when the rhythm is slowing down.
Yet Mehrjooyi reacted to this opinion by dividing Iranian critics into three categories of describers (who relate the plot and then criticize it as very weak), the envious (who wish they had written the novel themselves and therefore express their own ideals of the novel), and finally a mixture of both that always compare the text with previous works of the author. He concluded that he cannot write to satisfy all these categories and prefers to write according to the voice within him.
"Dar Kharabat-e Moqan" is the second novel by Dariush Mehrjooyi that is published by Qatreh in 304 pages.