Shuggie Bain

Shuggie Bain

Shuggie Bain is the unforgettable story of young Hugh "Shuggie" Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher's policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city's notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings. Shuggie's mother Agnes walks a wayward path: she is Shuggie's guiding light but a burden for him and his siblings. She dreams of a house with its own front door while she flicks through the pages of the Freemans catalogue, ordering a little happiness on credit, anything to brighten up her grey life. Married to a philandering taxi-driver husband, Agnes keeps her pride by looking good--her beehive, make-up, and pearly-white false teeth offer a glamourous image of a Glaswegian Elizabeth Taylor. But under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away the lion's share of each week's benefits--all the family has to live on--on cans of extra-strong lager hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. Agnes's older children find their own ways to get a safe distance from their mother, abandoning Shuggie to care for her as she swings between alcoholic binges and sobriety. Shuggie is meanwhile struggling to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be, but everyone has realized that he is "no right," a boy with a secret that all but him can see. Agnes is supportive of her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her--even her beloved Shuggie.

A heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality, and love, Shuggie Bain is an epic portrayal of a working-class family that is rarely seen in fiction. Recalling the work of Edouard Louis, Alan Hollinghurst, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist who has a powerful and important story to tell.

Title:Shuggie Bain
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780802148049
Format Type:

    Shuggie Bain Reviews

  • Emily May

    This is a very dark, depressing, gritty read. It also might be a challenging one for those unfamiliar with the Glasgow dialect-- not unlike the Edinburgh dialect in Welsh's Trainspotting.It shares oth...

  • Roxane

    Reminded me of A Little Life. Outstanding, immersive, raw storytelling. Compelling characters. ...

  • Paromjit

    Winner of the Booker Prize 2020!Without doubt, Douglas Stuart has written one of the books of the year, a coming of age story, an unflinching, bleak and emotionally heartbreaking portrayal of a beaten...

  • Adina

    Worthy winner of the Booker Prize 2020 I only read this book from the shortlist but I am so glad it won. While I am not following the Booker Prize this year, I’ve decided to read Shuggie Bain beca...

  • Elyse  Walters

    CONGRATS... WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE Huge congrats on the National award nomination My heart and gut were grievously affected by this story. I learned a lot. I felt even more. I’ve already discuss...

  • Marchpane

    BOOKER PRIZE 2020 WINNERI think my heart grew three sizes reading this. Shuggie Bain is a young boy growing up in 80s Glasgow, with an alcoholic mother, absent father, and a dawning sense that he j...

  • Angela M

    I know it sounds cliche, but there’s no other way to describe this story as other than gut wrenching. It’s also beautifully written in authentic dialect which gives a feel of authenticity. If that...

  • Diane S ?

    4.5 I knew it! When I was only fifty pages or so into the book, I had the feeling it was going to break my heart. It did. Glasgow in the eighties, many live in council housing, a day to day existence....

  • Eric Anderson

    So happy that Shuggie Bain has won the 2020 Booker Prize! You can watch my live reaction to the ceremony and an interview with Douglas Stuart immediately after he won the award here: https://www.youtu...

  • Meike

    Well-deserved winner of the Booker Prize 2020This, ladies and gentlemen, is a true gem, a wonderfully empathetic, but also tough novel about the son of an alcoholic mother growing up in Glasgow during...