The Booker Prize
Winner of the Booker Prize 2020
Winner of 'Book of the Year' at the British Book Awards 2021
Winner of 'Debut of the Year' at the British Book Awards 2021
'Douglas Stuart has written a first novel of rare and lasting beauty' – Observer
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 Édouard Louis, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, a blistering debut by a brilliant writer with a powerful and important story to tell.
'We were bowled over by this first novel, which creates an amazingly intimate, compassionate, gripping portrait of addiction, courage and love.' – The judges of the Booker Prize
A heartbreaking novel, a book both beautiful and brutal . . . All that grief and sadness and misery has been turned into something tough, tender and beautifully sad.
Leaves us gutted and marvelling: Life may be short, but it takes forever.
New York Times
I think it’s the best first book I’ve read in many years.
Karl Ove Knausgård, Guardian