Synopses & Reviews
Named one of Granta
's Best of Young British Novelists
Anais Hendricks, fifteen, is in the back of a police car. She is headed for the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can't remember what’s happened, but across town a policewoman lies in a coma and Anais is covered in blood. Raised in foster care from birth and moved through twenty-three placements before she even turned seven, Anais has been let down by just about every adult she has ever met. Now a counterculture outlaw, she knows that she can only rely on herself. And yet despite the parade of horrors visited upon her early life, she greets the world with the witty, fierce insight of a survivor.
Anais finds a sense of belonging among the residents of the Panopticon — they form intense bonds, and she soon becomes part of an ad-hoc family. Together, they struggle against the adults that keep them confined. But when she looks up at the watchtower that looms over the residents, Anais realizes her fate: She is an anonymous part of an experiment, and she always was. Now it seems that the experiment is closing in.
Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content
Shortlisted for The Desmond Elliott Award
Shortlisted for The James Tait Black Prize
Shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize
“Anais's ongoing internal dialog, her periodic reimagining of her life and situation, is entralling....James Kelman's How Late It Was, How Late meets Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest. Not to be missed.” Library Journal (starred review)
“Dark and disturbing but also exciting and moving, thanks to a memorable heroine and vividly atmospheric prose….Fagan [paints] her battered characters’ fierce loyalty to each other with such conviction and surprising tenderness.” Kirkus Reviews
“Told in Anais’ raw voice, Fagan’s novel peers into the world inhabited by forgotten children, and, in Anais, gives us a heartbreakingly intelligent and sensitive heroine wrapped in an impossibly impenetrable exterior. Readers won’t be able to tear themselves away from this transcendent debut.” Booklist (starred review)
“Anais’s story is one of abandonment, loss, and redemption, well suited for a paranoid age in which society finds itself constantly under the microscope.” Publishers Weekly
“Fagan has created a feisty, brass-knuckled yet deeply vulnerable heroine, who feels like sort of a cross between Lisbeth Salander, Stieg Larsson’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and one of Irvine Welsh’s drug-taking Scottish miscreants from Trainspotting or Skagboys. Her novel is by turns gritty, unnerving, exhausting, [and] ferocious....A deeply felt and genuinely affecting novel.” Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“Fagan has given us one of the most spirited heroines to cuss, kiss, bite and generally break the nose of the English novel in many a moon...there is no resisting the tidal rollout of Fagan’s imagery. Her prose beats behind your eyelids, the flow of images widening to a glittering delta whenever Anais approaches the vexed issue of her origins...vive Jenni Fagan...whose next book just moved into my ‘eagerly anticipated’ pile.” Tom Shone, New York Times Book Review
“[Fagan] grew up in what’s euphemistically called ‘the care system,’ and she writes about these young people with a deep sympathy for their violently disordered lives and an equally deep appreciation of their humor and resiliency....[Fagan has a] rousing voice, with its roundly rendered Scottish accent.” Ron Charles, Washington Post
“The Panopticon [is] a terrifically gritty and vivid debut.” Cleveland Plain Dealer
“[A] terrific portrait of a young criminal....Fagan makes this ugly life somehow beautiful.” Alan Cheuse, NPR
About the Author
Jenni Fagan was born in Livingston, Scotland. She graduated from Greenwich University and won a scholarship to the Royal Holloway MFA. A published poet, she has won awards from Arts Council England, Dewar Arts and Scottish Screen among others. She has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize, and was named one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists in 2013. The Panopticon is her first novel.