Jenni Fagan was born in Scotland. She graduated from Greenwich University and won a scholarship to the Royal Holloway MFA programme. She has just completed her PhD at the University of Edinburgh. A published poet and novelist, she has won awards from Creative Scotland, Dewar Arts, Scottish Screen and Scottish Book Trust among others, and has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Jenni was selected as one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists after the publication of her debut novel, The Panopticon, which was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and the James Tait Black Prize. Her adaptation of The Panopticon was staged by the National Theatre of Scotland to great acclaim. The Sunlight Pilgrims, her second novel, was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Encore Award and the Saltire Fiction Book of the Year Award, and saw her win Scottish Author of the Year at the Herald Culture Awards. She lives in Edinburgh with her son.

Penguin Books


  • Imprint: William Heinemann
  • Published: 14/01/2021
  • ISBN: 9780434023318
  • Length: 352  Pages
  • Dimensions: 225mm x 32mm x 145mm
  • Weight: 461g
  • RRP: £16.99

Featured in Damian Barr’s picks for 2021

If this addictive slice of Edinburgh Gothic isn’t on all prize lists, there is no justice. iNews

‘Over time, 10 Luckenbooth Close sinks from grand residence to condemned squat with secrets seething in its walls … Luckenbooth is a place of compacted time, where the past manifests as unquiet ghosts and the future bleeds into the present … There’s a force in Luckenbooth‘s bizarre assemblage.’ The Times

Definitely going to be one of my books of 2021, a gloriously transgressive novel of Edinburgh denizens past and present. IAN RANKIN
Stories tucked away on every floor. No. 10 Luckenbooth Close is an archetypal Edinburgh tenement.

The devil’s daughter rows to the shores of Leith in a coffin. The year is 1910 and she has been sent to a tenement building in Edinburgh by her recently deceased father to bear a child for a wealthy man and his fiancée. The harrowing events that follow lead to a curse on the building and its residents – a curse that will last for the rest of the century.

Over nine decades, No. 10 Luckenbooth Close bears witness to emblems of a changing world outside its walls. An infamous madam, a spy, a famous Beat poet, a coal miner who fears daylight, a psychic: these are some of the residents whose lives are plagued by the building’s troubled history in disparate, sometimes chilling ways. The curse creeps up the nine floors and an enraged spirit world swells to the surface, desperate for the true horror of the building’s longest kept secret to be heard.

Luckenbooth is a bold, haunting and dazzlingly unique novel about the stories and secrets we leave behind, and the places that hold them long after we are gone.
One of the most stunning literary experiences I’ve had in years.Luckenbooth, sprawling the decades with its themes of repression and revenge, brings back something that has long been lacking in the British novel: ambition. If Alasdair Gray’s Lanark was a masterly imagining of Glasgow, then this is the quintessential novel of Edinburgh at its darkest.‘ IRVINE WELSH

A deeply powerful, compellingly vivid novel … Luckenbooth is a major work of Scottish fiction – possibly one of the most significant novels of the last ten years’ ALAN WARNER

Luckenbooth isseedy, sexy and strange, a haunted house story soaked in booze and bad weather … Fagan’s prose is fast and impressionistic.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘With Luckenbooth, [Jenni Fagan] gives us nine of Edinburgh’s wildest and loneliest misfits … Piles on claustrophobia and menace … As we move between the characters’ perspectives, gritty realism takes over from the gothic. This isn’t fancy Edinburgh: at No 10 it’s cigarettes, cocaine and Benzedrine for breakfast … There are memorable creations … Fagan’s prose is poetic, high-octane, built on punchy sentences. Arresting descriptions of the city and its weather abound. This is not a novel that lacks energy.’ Sunday Times

‘Jenni Fagan’s Luckenbooth reminded me of one of my favourite novels, Georges Perec’sLife: A User’s Manual. Set in an Edinburgh tenement, it leaps across decades to tell the story of the curse that haunts No 10 Luckenbooth Close and its eccentric inhabitants.’ Alex Preston, Observer

‘Structures and structuralism obsess Jenni Fagan. Those obsessions intertwine spectacularly in Luckenbooth, her third novel, about an Edinburgh tenement and the curse that haunts it, infecting the lives of all who live across the building’s nine floors over nine decades of mystery and uproarious change … Melding the poetic, the esoteric and the occult with the grit and grime of a real life lived on the edge, she writes unlike any other author of her generation, in no small part because she has lived a life unlike any other author.’ Scotsman

A whirlwind of a novel, and I am certain that various labels will be attached to it – Caledonian magic realism, tartan gothic, something nasty in the shortbread tin, Angela Carter in a kilt cross-hatched with safety pins. What it is, is radical and profoundly fabulist. It is about the stories we are told and whether there is the possibility of there being new stories … There is a great deal of imagination and empathy at work here. The structure of the building acts as a kind of framework to contain the pent-up furies … Luckenbooth is a daring book, and beautifully written.‘ Scotland on Sunday

Fagan isunflinching in her depictions of derangement and death but Luckenbooth is compelling and often darkly funny … Her storytelling has an urgency and – to use an overused but apt word – authenticity.’ Financial Times

Masterly … A lesser writer would struggle to control this cacophony of voices but what marks out Luckenboothis the fierce intelligence driving Fagan’s tale … This is a mad god’s dream of a book – it deserves to be shortlisted for every prize going this year.’ iNews


A deeply powerful, compellingly vivid novel … LUCKENBOOTH is a major work of Scottish fiction – possibly one of the most significant novels of the last ten years … [A] forceful work of fiction to energize a somewhat diffuse, uncertain and often self-congratulatory fictional landscape … What is so significant about the novel is its instinctive, vatic, lyrical, occult power … A poetic novel which reverberates and pulses in its own universe and on its own terms.

Alan Warner