Shuggie Bain (Paperback)Douglas Stuart (author)
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An uncompromising yet tender and warmly witty exploration of love, pride and poverty, Shuggie Bain charts the endeavours of its eponymous protagonist – an ambitious and fastidious boy from a dire mining town with a thirst for a better life.
Winner of the Booker Prize 2020
Winner of the British Book Awards Overall Book of the Year & Debut Book of the Year 2021
Shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize 2021
Longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2021
Longlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction 2021
Winner of Scottish Waterstones Book of the Year 2020
It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town. As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves. It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest.
Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he shares his mother's sense of snobbish propriety. The miners' children pick on him and adults condemn him as no' right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.
Douglas Stuart's Shuggie Bain lays bare the ruthlessness of poverty, the limits of love, and the hollowness of pride. A counterpart to the privileged Thatcher-era London of Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty, it also recalls the work of Edouard Louis, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, a blistering debut by a brilliant writer with a powerful and important story to tell.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Number of pages: 448
Weight: 336 g
Dimensions: 197 x 129 x 30 mm
'Beautiful and bleak but with enough warmth and optimism to carry the reader through.' - Graham Norton (via Twitter)
'A boy's heartbreaking love for his mother . . . as intense and excruciating to read as any novel I have ever held in my hand . . . The book's evocative power arises out of the author's talent for conjuring a place, a time, and the texture of emotion . . . brilliantly written.' - Newsday
'A debut novel that reads like a masterpiece, Shuggie Bain gives voice to the kind of helpless, hopeless love that children can feel toward broken parents.' - Washington Post
'This heartfelt and harrowing debut novel - which has been compared to the work of Edouard Louis, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, and which Kirkus has already called "a masterpiece" . . . is rightly being heralded for its visceral, emotionally nuanced portrayal of working class Scottish life and its blazingly intimate exploration of a mother-son relationship.' - LitHub
'A formidable story, lyrically told, about intimacy, family, and love.' - 12 Best Books of 2020 So Far, ELLE (US)
'The way Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting carved a permanent place in our heads and hearts for the junkies of late-1980s Edinburgh, the language, imagery, and story of fashion designer Stuart's debut novel apotheosizes the life of the Bain family of Glasgow... Readers may get through the whole novel without breaking down-then read the first sentence of the acknowledgements and lose it. The emotional truth embodied here will crack you open. You will never forget Shuggie Bain. Scene by scene, this book is a masterpiece.' - Kirkus Reviews starred review
'The body - especially the body in pain - blazes on the pages of Shuggie Bain . . . The book would be just about unbearable were it not for the author's astonishing capacity for love . . . The book leaves us gutted and marvelling: Life may be short, but it takes forever.' - New York Times
'A rare and haunting ode to 1980s Glasgow and its struggling communities, Shuggie Bain tells the story of a collapsing family that is lashed together by love alone. Douglas Stuart writes with startling, searing intimacy. I fell hard for these characters; when they have nothing left, they cling maddeningly-irresistibly-to humor, pride and hope' - Chia-Chia Lin
'Shuggie Bain is an intimate and frighteningly acute exploration of a mother-son relationship and a masterful portrait of alcoholism in Scottish working class life, rendered with old-school lyrical realism . . . I kept being reminded of Joyce's Dubliners.' - Sandra Newman, author of The Heavens
'There's no way to fake the life experience that forms the bedrock of Douglas Stuart's wonderful Shuggie Bain. No way to fake the talent either. Shuggie will knock you sideways' - Richard Russo
'A dark shining work. Raw, formidable, bursting with tenderness and frailty. The effect is remarkable, it will make you cry.' - Karl Geary, author of Montpelier Parade
'Every now and then a novel comes along that feels necessary and inevitable. I'll never forget Shuggie and Agnes or the incredibly detailed Glasgow they inhabit. This is the rare contemporary novel that reads like an instant classic. I'll be thinking and talking about Shuggie Bain - and teaching it - for quite some time.' - Garrard Conley, New York Times-bestselling author of Boy Erased
'Glasgow, Scotland, in the 1980s is the backdrop for this story of the fraught bond between a young boy and his mother.' - 'The 22 Best Books to Read This Winter', Vogue (US)
'Compulsively readable... As [the novel] beautifully and shockingly illustrates how Shuggie ends up alone, this novel offers a testament to the indomitable human spirit. Very highly recommended' - Library Journal starred review
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“Ultimately uplifting. Sad not depressing.”
Wonderful read. Fantastic debut. I knew I would love this book from the title and cover photograph. It was as good as I thought it might be. Sad but not depressing it was ultimately uplifting.
I was lucky enough... More
Agnes had so many hopes for her life. Her first husband was simply a disappointment, too well-behaved, too boring. With Shug Bain things could be different. But soon she wakes up still in her childhood room with her... More
The story starts with a teenage Shuggie holed up in a boarding house trying to make ends meet with a job on the deli counter in a supermarket whilst trying to attend school. It then flits back to start the story from... More
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