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The Panopticon

Cover of The Panopticon

The Panopticon

A Novel

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

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

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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.
Reviews-
  • Michiko Kakutani, New York Times Shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize

    "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."
  • Alan Cheuse, NPR "[A] terrific portrait of a young criminal...Fagan makes this ugly life somehow beautiful."
  • Bust (four stars) "Fagan creates a complex and vulnerable character...[and] even though Anais makes it hard for you to love her, you can't help wishing her out of her plight and cheering her upward."
  • Gillian Flynn, Oprah.com "In the Margaret Atwood/The Handmaid's Tale vein--very literary and suspenseful. I like books set in an altered reality--one that feels familiar and yet also deeply unfamiliar, that embodies some of the dailiness of life, and yet slowly reveals itself to be a very different, much more sinister place."
  • Tupelo Hassman, author of Girlchild "With The Panopticon, Fagan makes Foucault proud and readers ecstastic. This is why we read. You'll begin wanting to save Anais Hendricks but finish wondering if, and how, she's managed to save you."
  • Eleanor Catton, author of The Rehearsal "Ferocious and devastating, The Panopticon sounds a battle-cry on behalf of the abandoned, the battered, and the betrayed. To call it a good novel is not good enough: this is an important novel, a book with a conscience, a passionate challenge to the powers-that-be. Jenni Fagan smashes every possible euphemism for adolescent intimacy and adolescent violence, and she does it with tenderness and even humour. Hats off to Jenni Fagan! I will be recommending this book to everyone I know."
  • Irvine Welsh "Best debut novel I've read this year."
  • Financial Times "[A] confident and deftly wrought debut...The Panopticon is an example of what Martin Amis has called the "voice novel", the success of which depends on the convincing portrayal of an idiosyncratic narrator. In this Fagan excels...Her voice is compellingly realised. We cheer her on as she rails against abusive boyfriends and apathetic social workers, her defiance rendered in a rich Midlothian brogue."
  • Stuart Kelly, Scotsman "The most assured and intriguing first novel by a Scottish writer that I have read in a decade, a book which is lithely and poetically written, politically and morally brave and simply unforgettable...As a debut, The Panopticon does everything it should. It announces a major new star in the firmament."
  • Scotland on Sunday "[The narrator] is engagingly drawn by Fagan, who has created a character possessed of intellectual curiosity and individual quirks...Written with great verve...Fagan has a clear voice, an unflinching feel for the complexity of the teenage mindset, and an awareness of the burden we impose on children...What's intriguing here is her effort to lift the story of teen misadventure into a heightened realm of intellectual aspiration and quasi-sci-fi notions of sinister social change."
  • Guardian "What Fagan depicts in her debut novel, The Panopticon, is a society in which people don't just fall through the net--there is no net...Fagan is writing about important stuff: the losers, the lonely, most of them women. [Anais] maintains a cool, smart, pretty, witty and wise persona."
  • Stylist "Reminiscent of Girl, Interrupted...The novel is as bold, shocking and intelligent as its central character...The institutional details (magnolia walls, screwed-down chairs) anchor The Panopticon in realism, giving it a greater bite. Much of Anais' life is the stuff of tabloid shock stories and The Panopticon's strength lies in giving you an insight into the lonely, damaged girl behind the headlines...This week's winner."
  • Marie Claire "An indictment of the care system, this dazzling and distinctive novel has at its heart an unstoppable heroine...Fagan's prose is fierce, funny and brilliant at capturing her heroine's sparky smartness and vulnerability...Emotionally explosiv
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