Featured in Damian Barr's picks for 2021
'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 fiancee. 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
'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's Life: 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