Or why you should read Moxyland
by Lauren Beukes
Moxyland is a novel set in a dystopian, near future Cape Town, South Africa. The novel follows four young adults as they try and navigate a landscape dictated by corporations, militarized police, connectivity, pervasive advertisement, surveillance and runaway technology. Kendra is a young photographer interested in using analog film in a digital era who offers herself up as an experimental test subject in return for lucrative corporate sponsorship. Lerato is a ruthless corporate ladder climber and computer programmer who is willing to do anything to get promoted and maintain her cushy corporate lifestyle. Tendeka is an activist who sees the social injustice around him and wants to help, but he needs money for his projects and has a problem with his temper. Toby, the trust-fund baby of wealthy parents, spends his time having fun and broadcasting "The Diary of Cunt", his lifeblog, in hopes of fame, fortune, and better drugs. Moxyland examines how these characters live in a world shaped by some of our most alarming social trends and whether they can survive when a cyberterrorist mastermind sets their sights on Cape Town.
Moxyland is maybe the novel that best captures the economic realities of being a Millenial. Reading this book as a late 20-something trying to suss out the career path that will take turn my passions into a financially viable reality, I am struck by just how much I see that struggle reflected in the pages of the novel. It already seems that some toxic mix of technology, income inequality, corporate personhood, runaway capitalism, and democratic failure is already restricting the economic opportunities of my contemporaries. I already know Kendras who have had to abandon artistic pursuits or sold out their creativity to corporations or sponsorships just to keep making. I know Leratos who have leveraged their education and skills for corporate gigs that pay well but ultimately absorb their lives and make them part of the system. I know Tendekas who are appalled at social injustice and who have fucked off the grid to become professional protestors and activists. I know Tobys who have decided the whole fucking thing is a scam and decided to live life for the fun of it any way they can. And now I'm left here after reading Moxyland trying to figure out which one of the characters I want to be or already am, and if I am ultimately just as fucked as they all are.
I would recommend Moxyland to just about everyone. It is a really well written and darkly fascinating book with memorable characters in an interesting setting; it's great from a pure reading experience and I had trouble putting it down. If you are like me, a young adult ruminating on career prospects and the worrying trends of our governments, Moxyland is the dystopian mirror world of our reality. It's everything that makes me wonder how the fuck I'll ever raise kids in this world turned just the tiniest bit up. It's kind of an important read. If you are an older person, maybe in marketing, trying to figure out why Millenials aren't buying cars or whatever, Moxyland is a pretty good peek into our economic nihilism. Basically, I think Moxyland really captures everything horrible about today and posits a plausible tomorrow, and if you are at all interested in being ready for it, I'd read this book.