Catherine O Flynn's first novel , What Was Lost a quirky tale set in a shopping centre came out of nowhere , well a small indie publisher, to win the Costa First novel award.
Her follow up , News Where You Are, has a similar feel, although this time it is set in the world of local television news. I actually read this at the start of the new year but for some reason kept putting off writing a post about it
The story is built around Frank a presenter on Midlands tv who wrestles journalistic integrity with a lack of ambition and having to report on singing pigs and other stories that can only appear in local news. In the background he struggles to understand the realtionship he had with his architect father , as his father's old buildings are demolished one by one, and his mother who he visits every week in an old peoples home and who seems to have lost her love of life This prompts questions about the legacies we leave behind and leads Frank to dig deeper into a story of a lonely death. Meanwhile Frank starts to find links to the hit and run death of his friend and predecessor, Phil , a kind of king pin of local news who went on to find fame on national tv. Gradually these two strands are bought together as a slight mystery starts to evolve.
I say a slight mystery, as a bit like the Jackson Brodie books of Kate Atkinson (of which this book reminds me a lot), the mystery is always secondary to the mundane emotional ups and down as the characters stumble through life.
The News where you are on the surface is a gentle read about a contented man who doesn't realise he has a lot to resolve, and the people he loves who will help him get there. There are moments of subtle humour but also poignancy and sadness, that left me still thinking about the book weeks after I read it
You can buy the News Where You Are here