Revisit the haunting debut short story collection from the Booker-shortlisted author of Everything Under.
'Full of unabashedly, refreshingly angry women... In a year that made me furious, Daisy Johnson’s Fen was a howl I didn’t know I needed' Celeste Ng
The Fen is a liminal land. Real people live their lives here. They wrestle with sex and desire, with everyday routine. But the wild is always close at hand, ready to erupt.
This is a place where animals and people commingle and fuse, where curious metamorphoses take place, where myth and dark magic still linger. So here a teenager may starve herself into the shape of an eel. A house might fall in love with a girl. A woman might give birth to a, well, what?
'Instant classic...a bold, take-no-prisoners collection situated somewhere between Angela Carter and Deborah Levy' Jeff VanderMeer
Centered in the depressed flatlands of eastern England, the stories in Johnson's debut collection straddle the drama of transformation in both the uncanny and the everyday. "A Bruise in the Shape of a Door Handle" describes a woman's house falling in love with her girlfriend. So affectionate is the house that it consumes her arm "to the elbow in something that once was wall and now was loose, flabby." In "Starver," a girl is transfigured into a fish. Ignoring her mother's protestations, her sister must set her free in the water once gills begin "shuttering on the side of her neck." These imaginative depictions of entrapment and escape pair well with more ordinary stories. In "The Scattering," a 15-year-old named Matilda falls in with her older brother's friends. "In a town where there was nothing to do," Johnson writes of the group, "they did well at nothing." Their gatherings around an impromptu skate park built into a "copse of thin trees," follow a familiar teenage arc, but Johnson manages to make these scenes as thrillingly direct as any of the supernatural fare that precedes them. "She thought there must be times you caught yourself learning," Johnson writes of Matilda, as she becomes accepted by the group: rather than going from girl to fish, she is conquering the equally daunting task of going from girl to woman.