Penguin £7.99 (311pp) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
The News Where You Are, By Catherine O'Flynn
Friday 11 February 2011
Catherine O'Flynn's prize-winning debut What Was Lost was set in the dystopian world of a Midlands shopping mall. In her second novel, it is a regional TV studio that becomes the symbol for mass culture gone sour.
O'Flynn's protagonist, Frank, is a newsreader known for his terrible puns and lack of ambition. A sweet-natured man, more interested in nonentities than celebrities, he has taken to performing random acts of mourning for those who have died alone.
Also on his mind is solving the mystery of who killed his predecessor, TV legend Phil Smethway. O'Flynn has a knack for tender comedy: her portrait of urban disenchantment shows a determination to squeeze humanity out of the most soulless of environments.
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