Waterstones 11

The Panopticon

The Panopticon

by Jenni Fagan

Format: Hardback 256 pages

101 days until publication

Debut novels



Pa`nop´ti`con ( noun). A prison so constructed that the inspector can see each of the prisoners at all times, without being seen.

Anais Hendricks, 15, is in the back of a police car, headed for The Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can’t remember the events that led her here, but across town a policewoman lies in a coma and there is blood on Anais’ school uniform.

Smart, funny and fierce, Anais is a counter-culture outlaw, a bohemian philosopher in sailor shorts and a pillbox hat. She is also a child who has been let down, or worse, by just about every adult she has ever met.

The residents of the Panopticon form intense bonds, heightened by their place on the periphery, and Anais finds herself part of an ad-hoc family there. Much more suspicious are the social workers, especially Helen, who is about to leave her job for an elephant sanctuary in India but is determined to force Anais to confront the circumstances of her birth before she goes.

Looking up at the watchtower that looms over the residents, Anais knows her fate: she is part of an experiment, she always was, it’s a given, a liberty – a fact. And the experiment is closing in.

In language dazzling, energetic and pure, The Panopticon introduces us to a heartbreaking young heroine and an incredibly assured and outstanding new voice in fiction.


Book details


William Heinemann Ltd



The Random House Group News

The Random House Group


Women dominate Waterstones 11 List of Future Stars

Jennie Fagan

Jenni Fagan

This year’s Waterstones 11, the major initiative created to uncover the best in debut fiction from around the world, is dominated by female talent, including three Random House Group authors.

Announced on Thursday at Waterstones’ flagship store, the list is seen as an indicator of potential prize contenders and those expected to go on to achieve critical and commercial success.  On the list are Heinemann author Jenni Fagan, Transworld author Rachel Joyce and Vintage author Grace McCleen.

The list in full (in alphabetical order):

  • 1. The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan (William Heinemann)
  • 2. Absolution by Patrick Flanery (Atlantic)
  • 3. Shelter by Frances Greenslade (Virago)
  • 4. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (Fourth Estate)
  • 5. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (Headline Review)
  • 6. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Doubleday)
  • 7. The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen (Chatto & Windus)
  • 8. Signs of Life by Anna Raverat (Picador)
  • 9. The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan (Virago)
  • 10. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (Simon & Schuster)
  • 11. Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles (Harper Press)

Waterstones’ Managing Director, James Daunt, said:

“There is a singular excitement to the discovery of a new writer of rare talent. For us booksellers, the process of introducing and guiding readers to the very best new work is one of the most important roles we perform. This year’s 11 are once again a marvellous selection. It is hard to believe these are debut novels, so assured and alive the writing.”

The  Panopticon by Jenni Fagan

“Everything one could hope for in a debut novel; a strong, distinctive heroine, moments that make you laugh and the deft touch of a writer who can leave you with a lump in your throat.” – Mark Burgess, Fiction Team, Waterstones