Shuggie Bain

Douglas Stuart

2020 Winner

The Booker Prize

06 August 2020
448 pages


Winner of the Booker Prize
Winner of 'Book of the Year' at the British Book Awards
A BBC 'Big Jubilee Read'

A heart-wrenchingly moving novel set in Glasgow during the Thatcher years, Shuggie Bain tells the story of a boy's doomed attempt to save his proud, alcoholic mother from her addiction.

'An amazingly intimate, compassionate, gripping portrait of addiction, courage and love.' – The judges of the Booker Prize

It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more from life, dreaming of greater things. But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and 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, he is clearly 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.

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart lays bare the ruthlessness of poverty, the limits of love, and the hollowness of pride. For fans of A Little Life and Angela's Ashes, it is a heartbreaking novel by a brilliant writer with a powerful and important story to tell.

'A heartbreaking novel' – The Times
'Tender and unsentimental . . . The Billy Elliot-ish character of Shuggie . . . leaps off the page.' – Daily Mail
'Douglas Stuart has written a first novel of rare and lasting beauty.' – Observer

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.
I think it’s the best first book I’ve read in many years.