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About the Book

As the California borderland newspaper where they work prepares to close, three reporters are oddly given assignments to return to stories they’ve covered before—each one surprisingly personal. The first assignment takes reporter Aaron Klinsman and photographer Rita Valdez to an abandoned motel room where the mirrors are draped with towels, bits of black tape cover the doorknobs, and the perfect trace of a woman’s body is imprinted on the bed sheets. From this sexually charged beginning—on land his family used to own—Klinsman, Rita, and their colleague, Oscar Medem understand that they are supposed to uncover something. They just don’t know what.

Following the moonlit paths their assignments reveal through the bars, factories and complex streets of Tijuana and Otay, haunted by the femicides that have spread westward from Juarez, the reporters become more intimately entwined. Tracing the images they uncover, and those they cause and leave behind, they soon realize that every move they make is under surveillance. Beyond this, it seems their private lives and even their memories are being reconstructed by others.

Panopticon is a novel of dreamlike appearances and almost supernatural memories, a world of hidden watchers that evokes the dark recognition of just how little we can protect even our most private moments. It is a shadowy, erotic novel only slightly speculative that opens into the world we all now occupy.

What Readers Are Saying

David Bajo’s Panopticon is an ethereal, well-crafted, and quietly disturbing novel, a book that slices creepily through its characters’ pasts to uncover aspects of a technologically warped present that are equally riveting and unnerving because of their pervasiveness. —The Brooklyn Rail

Bajo now returns with Panopticon, an eerie mystery about the illicit thrill of grassroots surveillance.         —The Globe and Mail

These are fantastic tales of shape shifting, of devils in the guise of well-dressed men, and other bogeyman fare. — American Book Review

Atmospheric, heady, and absorbing, this novel operates on the borders between memory and vision, between observer and observed, between the real and the spectral—and proves those borders shifting and traversable. Watch closely. — Jedediah Berry, author of The Manual of Detection