Where the Shopping Mall is God

What was Lost – Catherine O’ FlynnWhat was Lost

This book has been out for a year and long-listed for a number of awards (Booker, Orange and even winning the Costa award for best first novel) so I’m way behind the crowd. (I may work in a library, but I’m not a librarian).

However,  this is the first book that has ever prompted me to write about it since struggling with A-level Chaucer 20 years ago.  And it is good, very good. An easy, entertaining read with humorous observations of contemporary life, this novel is also dark, scary and cleverly constructed.

A young girl has been missing for 20 years and the effects of her disappearance are still subtlety being felt.  Flynn’s characters are sketched with deft and delicate brushstrokes, against the backdrop of a gigantic shopping mall.  Yet it is the mall itself which is the main protagonist. Dominating the landscape and the lives of all, the mall is a menacing God of Shopping demanding worship and human sacrifice!

With some similarities to Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Alice Seabold’s The Lovely Bones this book works on many levels.  It is an enjoyable comedy, an intriguing, sinister mystery and a harsh criticism of the consumerism of modern life.

Rarely is such a well crafted book so eminently readable. So read it.