The Panopticon Paperback – 4 Apr 2013
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"It’s in the Margaret Atwood/The Handmaid’s Tale vein – very literary and suspenseful…Set in an altered reality – one that feels familiar and yet deeply unfamiliar, that embodies some of the dailiness of life, and yet slowly reveals itself to be a very different, much more sinister place." (Gillian Flynn, author of GONE GIRL)
"Each page sparkles with the ebullient and sinister magic of great storytelling ... An utterly magnificent achievement." (Irvine Welsh)
"Not just uncompromising and courageous. I think it's one of the most cunning and spirited novels I've read for years... An intelligent and deeply literary novel." (Ali Smith)
"Written with great verve and brio ... An astonishing debut, I have a feeling that Fagan is a name we will hear more of." (Jackie Kay)
"The 15-year-old heroine and narrator, has a rough, raw, joyous voice that leaps right off the page and grabs you by the throat…This punkish young philosopher is struggling with a terrible past, while battling sinister social workers…The glorious Anais is unforgettable." (The Times)
JENNI FAGAN HAS BEEN NAMED AS ONE OF GRANTA MAGAZINE'S BEST OF YOUNG BRITISH NOVELISTS 2013
The Panopticon is a bold, shocking and heartbreaking story of a young girl in a care home
SHORTLISTED FOR THE JAMES TAIT BLACK PRIZE FOR FICTION AND THE DESMOND ELLIOTT PRIZE 2013
NAMED ONE OF THE 50 BEST SCOTTISH BOOKS OF THE LAST 50 YEARS BY THE SCOTSMAN
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Top Customer Reviews
Comparison with Trainspotting is inevitable, but for me The Panopticon is far better written, far more mature, there's so much more creativity and skill displayed; the story is coherent, the characters believeable, no cardboard cutouts here.
The Panopticon deals with drug abuse, prostitution, vandalism, assault, murder, rape, and the whole care system, but they aren't thrust in your face just for cheap shocks, it's the background reality to the story. It is shocking at times, but... oh, I can't describe this well. It shocks you as part of a finely crafted story, not wild flashes of emotion as someone tries to push your buttons. Jenni Fagan takes care of you as a reader, holds your hand through the grim bits, entertains you, explains exactly enough. It's very gripping: I had just started on chapter 34, only a thin wedge of paper left in the book, and I was scared, very scared - how was it going to end? It's also funny, and thrilling, and sad - I'm definitely getting softer as I age, but I was crying at one point, just one little line tipped me over; I stopped reading and folded my arms tight around me.
The main character is a cool and scary delight. Anais is as delicate and fragile as a six inch shard of broken mirror. Damaged but functional, rainbow diamonds sparkle off her razor edges. I'd trust her with my life - but probably not my car or wallet. I was sometimes cheering for her, sometimes wanting to advise her or tell her to slow down, sometimes frightened for her, sometimes of her. Ultimately in awe of her courage.
I've read The Panopticon quickly, I'll now read it slowly, savouring the language. I'll probably keep re-reading it until Jenni Fagan's next book comes out. This is a dazzling first novel, I really, really hope there's more to come.
A book about hope, a book about friendship, a book about the world we live in, even if we don't necessarily live in THAT world. A book about sadness and the need for love. A book about adventure and dreams. A book about stark realities. A book to make you hold your loved ones even closer.
I hope this book does really well - it certainly deserves to - but mostly, I'm so delighted I read it and got to meet the fabulous, vulnerable, hilarious, creative, hard-as-nails, loyal and wonderful Anais Hendricks.
All of this and then you realise that this is Jenni Fagan's debut novel - it's pretty breathtaking.
I think, nowadays, many of us are quick to dismiss trouble makers - those who seem to create problems simply for the sake of it - as no good no-hopers. However, Jenni Fagan opens the doors on the care system (and its failings) and gives the reader an insight into this world. It is impossible not to like (and, eventually, love) Anais - she is witty, loyal, brave, philosophical and caring - and she has a great sense of style! You want to scoop her up and give her all the love that she's been deprived of during her life. Moreover, you feel an affinity with the other residents of the Panopticon too. Even when Brian (the dog rapist!) is bullied, you're sort of behind them because, let's face it, nobody likes a canine molester!
This novel, it's fair to say, is character driven - although there is a plot (albeit not of the edge-of-your-seat variety). What keeps the reader gripped here is the sheer skill of Fagan's wordsmithing - her ability to bring her characters to wonderful, colourful life so that you really do believe Anais is real and narrating her feelings and thoughts directly to you. The descriptions of drug highs, abuse and self harm are spot-on without ever being gratuitous.Read more ›
Being ill-treated by adults (particularly those who were supposed to care for you), and going through the care system, causes many (most?) children to feel the world is against them and to retaliate by fighting any form of authority, resisting any kindness, and abusing any trust subsequently shown by adults. I think the author showed this well in the attitudes of the protagonist and her fellow 'clients' (yes, we hated that term too).
The sense of family felt by residents was also very true to form as, regardless of personal problems, ultimately, care-kids will tend to stick together, the 'us against them' mentality kicking in. I remember a boy of nine - our youngest resident - whose mum had died of cancer, which was how he'd ended up in care. We all Looked after him, knowing he needed love, regardless of our own reasons for being there (often violence). None of us was 'all bad'.
SPOILER ALERT: An important part of this story, for me at least, was that Anais escaped serious harm, and long-term institution/prostitution, simply because she was more intelligent, and somehow better psychologically equipped to deal with her situation, than the majority. For most - like Isla and Tash - the story is very different.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sad, funny, tragic and hopeful. The main character Anais sticks with you long after you've finished the book-- you're cheering for her the whole way. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
Written in the voice of a sixteen year old Scottish girl, Anais, who was born and abandoned by her mad mother and spent the rest of her life kicked from foster home to institution... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley
Absolutely original, disturbing, wonderful book. The main characters are wonderfully brought to life and utterly heartbreaking. Not to be missed.Published 9 months ago by Graham Godfrey
So good. So depressing. Rarely do I find myself getting sucked into a book and reading it in a couple of days flat, but this one did that to me. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Kristina
Interesting but flawed, like the teenage heroine, would be my verdict on 'The Panopticon'. The book has terrific verve and wit - I have to admit the constant use of the 'f-word'... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Iris March
Difficult to read at times because of the content. At the same time I couldn't put it down. Heart breaking. . Read morePublished 14 months ago by josie
Found the use of the Scots language very inconsistent and felt the story never really went anywhere.Published 17 months ago by Nichola Hunter
Pretty dramatic and harrowing. The reality of children growing up in 'care'. Good read even if at times it felt a bit over the topPublished 17 months ago by ALG