Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart – Winner 2020 Booker Prize – Our Review
ABIA Longlist 2021 – International Book of the Year
Beautiful and heartbreaking, Shuggie Bain is the outstanding debut novel that has gone on to win this years Booker prize.
As with many great novels, there is a kernel of truth at its core. Drawing on experiences from his own childhood, Douglas Stuart paints a bleak landscape of 1980’s Glasgow. This is the era of Margaret Thatcher’s austere politics and many in the impoverished housing commission precinct are unemployable, turning to drink, drugs and prostitution.
Shuggie is a gentle, intuitive boy. Sensitive and caring, he doesn’t really fit in with the rough and tumble life of the harsh Glasgow streets. The last of his siblings, life has delivered him a hard hand, as he is first abandoned by his father, and then in turns by his beloved brother and sister – left to care for his beautiful alcoholic mother. A slave to the drink, keeping up appearances is of vital importance to her and they are frequently without food. Shuggie struggles with both his complex feelings towards his mother, Agnes, who is both his hero and a woman who is falling apart, and his own identity.
Shuggie Bain is a challenging but highly worthy read. Immensely moving, at it’s heart it’s about family and love. Really beautiful.
Review by Nicole @ Great Escape Books