The Next Chapter

Pasha Malla wrote an ode to dying retail spaces with novel Kill the Mall

Kill the Mall is a horror-tinged fantasy about what happens when the novel's narrator takes up a residency at a local mall. 
Kill the Mall is a novel by Pasha Malla. (Pasha Malla, Knopf Canada)

Pasha Malla was born in St. John's, grew up in London, Ont., and now lives in Toronto. His debut short story collection, The Withdrawal Method, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize and longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and his first novel, People Park, was a finalist for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award. 

His latest novel is titled Kill the Mall, a horror-tinged fantasy about what happens when the novel's narrator takes up a residency at a local mall. 

Like many kids in the 1980s and 1990s, Malla has lots of memories of spending time at malls. He stopped by The Next Chapter to explain how drew on those thoughts when writing Kill the Mall.

A large retail complex  

"I love the mall. I worked in a failing, if not failed, shopping mall in high school. I worked in the movie theatre. When I worked there, it was the only functioning business in the entire mall.

I love the mall. I worked in a failing, if not failed, shopping mall in high school.

"Every time I went to work, I would walk through an empty shopping mall with shuttered stores. The experience of that has always haunted me. It was very creepy. 

"To me, it's come to represent the failures of late capitalism — these retail dreams, abandoned, lost and removed from physical space into this kind of ethereal virtual realm."

A Toronto mall being torn down. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Missing the mall

"The thing that's most compelling about the mall is its function as public space. Teenagers understand the mall, or used to understand the mall when I was a teenager, better than anybody. It is basically an indoor park.  

The thing that's most compelling about the mall is its function as public space.

"The fact that commerce occurs there is very secondary to the ways in which teenagers, at least in the 90s, used to use the mall. The failure of the mall and the death of the mall is around the failure of the mall as a commercial space.

"I would like to see the malls repurposed as public space. I don't lament the loss of the mall as somewhere to buy stuff. I don't really care where I buy my stuff, but I do feel sad we don't have those spaces anymore. I just like going to malls. I like walking around in them. I feel at home in them.

"I know who I am in the mall, wherever the mall is."

Pasha Malla's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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