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Everything Under

A Novel
Daisy Johnson
The dictionary doesn’t contain every word. Gretel, a lexicographer by trade, knows this better than most. She grew up on a houseboat with her mother, wandering the canals of Oxford and speaking a private language of their own invention. Her mother disappeared when Gretel was a teen, abandoning her to foster care, and Gretel has tried to move on, spending her days updating dictionary entries.

One phone call from her mother is all it takes for the past to come rushing back. To find her, Gretel will have to recover buried memories of her final, fateful winter on the canals. A runaway boy had found community and shelter with them, and all three were haunted by their past and stalked by an ominous creature lurking in the canal: the bonak. Everything and nothing at once, the bonak was Gretel’s name for the thing she feared most. And now that she’s searching for her mother, she’ll have to face it.

In this electrifying reinterpretation of a classical myth, Daisy Johnson explores questions of fate and free will, gender fluidity, and fractured family relationships. Everything Under—a debut novel whose surreal, watery landscape will resonate with fans of Fen—is a daring, moving story that will leave you unsettled and unstrung.

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An eerie, watery reimagining of the Oedipus myth set on the canals of Oxford, from the author of Fen

About the Author

Daisy  Johnson
Credit: Matthew Bradshaw
Daisy Johnson was born in 1990. Her short fiction has appeared in Boston Review and the Warwick Review, among others. She was the recipient of the 2014 A. M. Heath Prize, and currently lives in Oxford, England. Fen is her first novel.
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Upcoming Events

Daisy Johnson reading at Books Are Magic

Books Are Magic in Brooklyn, NYview map
In conversation with Lauren Groff.

Daisy Johnson and Carmen Maria Machado reading at the Strand

Strand Book Store in New York, NYview map
Admission with purchase of Everything Under or $5 gift card.

Daisy Johnson reading at Harvard Book Store

Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MAview map
In conversation with Margot Livesey.

Daisy Johnson reading at Women and Children First

Women & Children First in Chicago, ILview map
In conversation with Laura Adamczyk.

Daisy Johnson reading at Black Dog Cafe

Black Dog Cafe in St. Paul, MNview map
In conversation with Curtis Sittenfeld. Reception at 6:00 PM; reading and conversation at 7:00 PM. Book sales provided by Subtext Books.


  • “Entrancing. . . . Johnson’s own writing summons the just-off-ness of the uncanny; she is capable of passages of exquisite creepiness. . . . Her sentences have an aqueous quality.”—The New Yorker
  • Everything Under is a force of nature. . . . Johnson carries on this grand tradition by making something very old uncannily new.”The New York Times Book Review
  • “Johnson is one of her generation’s most intriguing authors. . . . She fits us into tapestries of her own making—holding up a mirror to us before shattering and reassembling it.”—Entertainment Weekly
  • “Skillful and imaginative. . . . It takes a bold mind to steer so many elements through one tale, and an even stronger stylist to render them in a narrative that heeds, but seems not to, the laws of nature. Johnson has done all this in a book that will probably be read . . . for years to come as a part of the reclaiming of narrative territory.”—The Boston Globe
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