Shuggie Bain – Douglas Stuart


A story of addiction, love and hardship in a working-class Scottish family 

✚ “I knew I was in deeeep with Shuggie Bain when I put a load of washing on partway through reading it and said to myself “Ah! I dinnae put the powder in!”. The story is so evocative that I damn near felt like I was in a 1980s Scottish tenement myself. There is very little light and, like Shuggie, I held out hope that things were always close to getting better.

“I was apprehensive about this book having read a bit about how harrowing it was and wondered whether it would be ‘misery lit’ rather than Booker-worthy – it was giving out strong Angela’s Ashes vibes. While there were a couple of moments where things were just a tad too convenient or a sentence was a bit jarring overall this book is a blimmin’ belter and I cannae recommend it enough.” – Suzy

Something about the boy was no right, and this was at least something they could pity.

✚ “Shuggie Bain is the debut novel of Douglas Stuart, and an epic portrayal of a working-class Glaswegian family in the ’80s. Shuggie is a youngster with a developing sexuality that seems to offend some people, an alcoholic mother and a philandering taxi-driving father.

“Everyone in the family wants for something: better jobs, a house with a front door, education, more love, purpose. Yet it is clear that in this time and place all of these things are a struggle. And the toll of unfullfillment is taken out on those closest. It’s fair to say there isn’t a lot of joy in Shuggie Bain but I’m sure there is a lot of truth and its this that makes it compelling. Also the characters are exceptionally well constructed providing incentive to read on.” – Rachel

Published 2020
Grove Press
430 pages

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