Out on 06 August 2020

Shuggie Bain

Douglas Stuart

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06 August 2020
9781529019278
448 pages
Synopsis

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, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist with a powerful and important story to tell.

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

This heartfelt and harrowing debut novel – which has been compared to the work of Édouard 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.

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