Shuggie Bain - Douglas Stuart

Shuggie Bain

By Douglas Stuart

  • Release Date: 2020-02-20
  • Genre: Literary
Score: 4.5
From 227 Ratings


Winner of the Booker Prize 2020

Shortlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction 2020
The Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year 2020
Longlisted for the 2021 Rathbones Folio Prize

'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


  • Dark but brilliant!

    By Minnimus
    Really enjoyed this one - its very true to life of Scotland during this period and the characters in the book were were really engaging - with all their flaws and eccentricities. One of those books that stays with you and makes you feel sad for what could have been, but hopeful too for what's to come.
  • Absolutely fantastic

    By MRSPidge
    Fantastic best book I’ve read in a long time
  • PDB

    By shemyaza66
    Pure dead brilliant!
  • Snuggie baine

    By myoldflower
    It was so much like the pit village I grew up in just after the war. The women having their card schools and drinking, pawning their wedding ring to drink more. I thoroughly enjoyed the book thank you.
  • Grabs you by the throat

    By flyingnat81
    Absolutely visceral . Couldn’t put it down. So familiar for anybody who can relate to this story . So much heart, and heart ache. Just brilliant . Best read I’ve had in years and years.
  • A thing of dark beauty

    By Carol751
    Shuggie Bain leaps from the pages. A truly human character whose voice sings from every page. You will lose yourself in this tragic,humorous tale. Not for the faint hearted, this exquisitely drawn portrait of a young boy in 1980s Glasgow as he struggles with the fall out of his mother’s alcoholism will have you terrified to even dare hope for a happy outcome. Douglas Stuart paints the character of Shuggie Bain with such empathy that the reader feels personally invested in the story of this “ poor wean “. An absolute triumph of a novel.
  • No words left

    By FatouFrancesca
    I have no words left after reading this deep book. I saw my fear as a single mother in a way I never so clearly felt before: I could touch it. The expectation mothers have of fathers , lovers of partners, create deep hurts I never before so clearly saw the effects of. We owe it to our splendid children to understand hurt. Love is astonishing.
  • Amazing

    By Gemngio
    This book hit raw nerves and moved me so much. I shall look out for his future novels. An absolute masterpiece I’d say. So sad but yet so real. We all need real if we’ve been there...:::.:
  • Shuggie Bain

    By Delphobus.
    Cliche after cliche.... 👎🏻