Granta Best Young British Novelists 2013: Jenni Fagan

Jenni Fagan‘s debut, The Panopticon has been staring at me from the shelf (what else would it do?) ever since I bought it last year, having heard so many good things about it. So ‘Zephyrs’, Fagan’s novel excerpt from the Granta anthology, is the first thing I’ve read of hers – and it really is superb. A short portrait of a man leaving London as the river levels rise, the piece is written in a dense, fractured prose that makes even quite ordinary things seem hallucinatory (in this I was reminded of Jon McGregor’s work, which is always a pleasure). It ends with a strange image: a woman doing housework, outside, in her sleep. I’m left wanting to know more, and to read more by this writer – perhaps it’s time to stop staring at The Panopticon, and open it instead.

This is part of a series of posts on Granta 123: Best of Young British Novelists 4Click here to read the rest.


  1. Those excerpts in Granta are a wonderful way to recommend a writer without having to wait until another full length novel comes out. I remember reading a short story by Eleanor Catton in there which was so different from her first novel The Rehearsal and realising how unpredictable she was as a writer, that she could do compelling page turning lit as well.

  2. I haven’t read any of the Granta excerpts but I have read The Panopticon and thought it was just brilliant. Fagan has a knack for creating believable and interesting characters – I loved the voice of the central character Anais. Looking forward to her next book.

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