The Mall of America, parthenon of consumerism, is looking for the next Joan Didion.
Starting Feb. 20, you can apply to be the first writer-in-residence at the US’s biggest shopping mall. The writer will spend five days inside the mall, which has its own aquarium and theme park, and record “on-the-fly impressions.” In return, the shopping center, which measures 5.6 million square feet, will pay the winner $2,500 and put him or her up in a hotel for four nights.
Judging by the contest rules, the mall isn’t setting its literary sights very high, and is looking for someone whose writing will make good marketing. Its panel of submission reviewers will weigh “creativity” over quality, and the work can’t be critical of any aspect of the mall, whose tagline is “The place for fun in your life.”
The writer will also be expected to work from 11am to 7pm, and has to physically sit at a public desk in the mall for at least four hours per day. Pending approval, the winner may also have her work displayed in “almost-real time” on a large monitor inside the building, and it “may scroll continuously” throughout the day.
“We want a writer who can share an authentic, first-person narrative with our audience,” says the mall, which has 19 species of sharks, in an email. They’ve received 500 applications in the first two days. Submissions close March 10.
The mall, which claims it can fit nine Yankee stadiums or 347 Statues of Liberty inside, is in Bloomington, Minnesota.