Way back in 2008 I spoke with Birmingham Irish author, Catherine O'Flynn, about her debut novel 'What Was Lost'. The novel, which won a Costa Prize that year and was longlisted for the Booker Prize, took a fascinating look and the birth of modern consumer culture in the 1980 - if consumer culture isn't an oxymoron. The novel was published right at the peak of the economic boom/bubble in Ireland and much of the world - and as such provides an interesting insight into the consumer driven excesses and loss of community that many of us are looking at today. Anyway, its been on my mind lately.
“It was never really my intention to play the old ways off against the new. I was growing up in the ‘80s and it just felt natural to include some of these things. I tried to avoid having rose-tinted spectacles about the past, but there was something that I wanted to say about these huge shopping centres and the impact they’ve had on lives and on the landscape. But at the same time, I didn’t want to idealise the idea of the local shops, because some local shops are rubbish.
“What really started me off writing the book was working in a shopping centre and seeing how many people seemed totally lost there. People came thinking they were going to find something but they just seemed to hang out for an inordinate amount of time, hoping that whatever it was would appear. I was never really quite sure what they were looking for, but I’m pretty confident nobody ever found it there.”
Click HERE to read this interview in full as well as other interviews with Ann Enright, Kevin Barry, Colm Tóibin, Julian Gough, Donal Ryan, Colin Barrett and Danielle McLaughlin.