Winner of the 2020 Booker Prize
Shortlisted for the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
Shortlisted for the 2020 Kirkus Prize
Longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction 2020
Longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel
In 1981, Glasgow is dying and good families grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more out of 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 fake, teeth). As she descends deeper into alcohol, her three children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves.
Shuggie Bain, the youngest, holds out hope the longest. Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he’s picked on by the miner’s children and even the adults condemn him to be no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he practices his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.
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A dark shining work. Raw, formidable, bursting with tenderness and frailty. The effect is remarkable, it will make you cry.
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.
New York Times Bestselling Author of 'Boy Erased'
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. Stuart is a writer who genuinely loves his characters and makes them unforgettable and touching even when they're at their worst. He's also just a beautiful writer; I kept being reminded of Joyce's Dubliners. I loved this book.
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
Author of Chances Are
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.
Author of 'The Unpassing'
You will never forget Shuggie Bain. Scene by scene, this book is a masterpiece.
In exquisite detail, the book describes the devastating dysfunction in Shuggie’s family [...] a testament to the indomitable human spirit. Highly recommended
Perfect for getting lost in, Stuart's richly wrought coming-of-age saga is a trenchant portrayal of poverty and addiction, true to life and steeped in its era, setting, and dialect.
Booklist Full Review
An atmospheric epic set in 1980s working-class Glasgow, Shuggie Bain, a debut novel by Douglas Stuart, focuses on the relationship between a mother and son as she battles alcoholism and he grapples with his sexuality. It’s a formidable story, lyrically told, about intimacy, family, and love.
A debut novel that reads like a masterpiece
Striking in its honesty. It’s rare to find a portrait painted with such real, raw material. And it’s even rarer to find one made with such empathetic strokes.
He’s lovely, Douglas Stuart, fierce and loving and lovely. He shows us lots of monstrous behavior, but not a single monster — only damage [...] The book leaves us gutted and marveling
Magnificent [...] Shuggie Bain is far from a feel-good read, but its richly rendered events will give you a lot to talk about
A tale of dependency and ‘ruined dignity’ in 1980s Glasgow [...] it’s the obstinate Bain pride that prevents this novel from becoming a wallow in victimhood and gives it its ruined dignity
An instant classic. A novel that takes place during the Thatcher years and, in a way, defines it. A novel that explores the underbelly of Scottish society. A novel that digs through the grit and grime of 1980s Glasgow to reveal a story that is at once touching and gripping. Think D.H. Lawrence. Think James Joyce [...] A literary tour de force
Douglas’s sharp narrative perspective moves from character to character, depicting each internally and externally with astute grace, giving a complex understanding of the dynamics of the Bain family [...] It hopefully sets the tone for more beautifully devastating works of fiction to follow from Stuart in the future.
There are flashes of deep feeling that cut through the darkness [...] [this] will resonate with readers
A heartbreaking story about identity, addiction, and abandonment.
Shuggie Bain celebrates taking charge of one’s own destiny.
Shuggie Bain is Douglas Stuart’s first novel, as
intense and excruciating to read as any novel I have ever held in my hand. [...] This is a hard, grim book, brilliantly written and, in the end, worth the pain which accompanies reading it.
With his exquisitely detailed debut novel, Douglas Stuart has given Glasgow something of what James Joyce gave to Dublin. Every city needs a book like Shuggie Bain.
Douglas Stuart’s first novel steps into the literary lineage of Joyce’s Dubliners.
Douglas Stuart has written a first novel of rare and lasting beauty.