The Sunlight Pilgrims

The Sunlight Pilgrims

eBook - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
From the highly acclaimed author of The Panopticon and one of Granta's Best Young British Writers comes the new novel THE SUNLIGHT PILGRIMS. Set in a Scottish caravan park during a freak winter - it is snowing in Jerusalem, the Thames is overflowing, and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to arrive off the coast of Scotland - The Sunlight Pilgrims tells the story of a small Scottish community living through what people have begun to think is the end of times. Bodies are found frozen in the street with their eyes open, midst economic collapse, schooling and health care are run primarily on a voluntary basis. Dylan, a refugee from panic-stricken London who is grieving for his mother and his grandmother, arrives in the caravan park in the middle of the night - to begin his life anew. Under the lights of the aurora borealis, he is drawn to his neighbour Constance, a woman who is known for having two lovers, her eleven-year old daughter Stella, who is struggling to navigate changes in her own life, and elderly Barnacle, so crippled that he walks facing the earth. But as the temperature drops, daily life carries on: people get out of bed, they make a cup of tea, they fall in love, they complicate. The Sunlight Pilgrims, the thrilling follow-up to The Panopticon, is a humane, sad, funny, shimmeringly odd and beautiful novel about absence, about the unknowability of mothers. It is a story about people in extreme circumstances finding one another, and finding themselves.
Publisher: London : William Heinemann, [2016]
ISBN: 9780553418880
Branch Call Number: PR6106.A33 S95 2016x
Characteristics: 1 downloadable text file (310 pages)

Related Resources


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Sep 03, 2016

Very fresh and new concept. Many serious themes were explored in this novel rather than being implied. Compelling and intense, this was an engaging novel that is sure to draw readers in along with the ride.

Aug 23, 2016

The end-of times, climate apocalypse in The Sunlight Pilgrims puts all our climate change anxieties front and center. It’s November 2020 and the beginnings of a new ice age has descended on the plant. Weather patterns have shifted erratically: the Gulf Stream has slowed and cooled, the arctic is melting and its gargantuan icebergs have broken free (one of them is making its way to Scotland), and all over the world coastal cities are deluged. Jenni Fagan goes the other direction with this reality: rather than focus on the environmental and economic fallout, the recriminations and panic, Fagan gives us a glimpse of the ordinary lives of three people: a survivalist, Constance Fairbairn, and her transgender daughter, Stella, and a London refugee, Dylan McRae.

Dylan ran an art-house movie theatre in Soho with his mother and grandmother, who recently passed away. The cinema has lost money and is being foreclosed, and so Dylan decides to pack up his mom and granny (their ashes) and some meager belongings and travel north to Clachan Falls in Scotland to a mobile home community where is mother used to live. It’s a motley crew of people who live there, including Constance and her daughter. Dylan, Constance, and Stella meet and soon bond.

The Sunlight Pilgrims moves at glacial but steady pace and switches viewpoints between the three characters. Where the book shines is how the prose is filled with intricate detail reflecting the growing threat of winter. You’ll get some of the best prose describing snow and ice. I read this largely through a heat wave in early August, and it was such a contrasting visceral experience, and I swear I could feel the chill seep into my bones. These characters battle an encroaching doom with poignancy and dignity; they fight for survival, even while keeping a weary watch on the temperature gauge, which keeps dropping and dropping. They battle personal demons too, which provides most of the novel’s drama. Finally, the transgender angle is wonderfully done. Stella is a firecracker and one of the most interesting characters to read. You can’t help but root for her as she grapples with her gender identity, her body’s transformation set flush against the world’s. The overall tone of The Sunlight Pilgrims is one of melancholy but not despair. It crackles with life and warmth, even as the world freezes over.

Jul 27, 2016

Jenni Fagan has interesting things to say about climate change, transsexuality and survival. The writing and imagery is at times at little repetitive and the novel is not as good as her debut, "Panopticon" but is nevertheless a worthy read.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Subject Headings


Find it at MPL

To Top