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Shuggie Bain: Winner of the Booker Prize 2020 by [Douglas Stuart]
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Shuggie Bain: Winner of the Booker Prize 2020 Kindle Edition

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About the Author

Douglas Stuart was born and raised in Glasgow. After graduating from the Royal College of Art in London, he moved to New York City, where he began a career in fashion design. Shuggie Bain is his first novel. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.


Praise for Shuggie Bain:

New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction
Finalist for the National Book Award
Finalist for the Kirkus Prize
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize
Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel
Finalist for the L.A. Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction
Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction
Shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal, the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, and the 2021 Rathbones Folio Prize
The Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year 2020
Shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Breakthrough Author Award
Named a Best Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times, NPR, TIME, BuzzFeed, the Economist, the Times (UK), the Independent (UK), the Daily Telegraph (UK), Barnes & Noble, Kirkus Reviews, the New York Public Library, the Chicago Public Library, and the Washington Independent Review of Books

"We were bowled over by this first novel, which creates an amazingly intimate, compassionate, gripping portrait of addiction, courage and love. The book gives a vivid glimpse of a marginalized, impoverished community in a bygone era of British history. It's a desperately sad, almost-hopeful examination of family and the destructive powers of desire."--Booker Prize Judges

"This year's breakout debut . . . It has drawn comparisons to D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and Frank McCourt."--Alexandra Alter, New York Times

"I'm really, really stunned by it. It's so good. I think it's the best first book I've read in many years . . . It's a heartbreaking story, and quite hard to read at times, but it's almost like it's uplifting on behalf of literature. And it's written with great warmth and compassion for the characters."--Karl Ove Knausgaard, Guardian

"The body--especially the body in pain--blazes on the pages of Shuggie Bain . . . This is the world of Shuggie Bain, a little boy growing up in Glasgow in the 1980s. And this is the world of Agnes Bain, his glamorous, calamitous mother, drinking herself ever so slowly to death. The wonder is how crazily, improbably alive it all is . . . The book would be just about unbearable were it not for the author's astonishing capacity for love. He's lovely, Douglas Stuart, fierce and loving and lovely. He shows us lots of monstrous behavior, but not a single monster--only damage. If he has a sharp eye for brokenness, he is even keener on the inextinguishable flicker of love that remains . . . The book leaves us gutted and marveling: Life may be short, but it takes forever."--Leah Hager Cohen, New York Times Book Review

"A debut novel that reads like a masterpiece."--Bethanne Patrick, Washington Post

"A novel that cracks open the human heart, brings you inside, tears you up, and brings you up, with its episodes of unvarnished love, loss, survival and sorrow."--Scott Simon, NPR's "Weekend Edition"

"Agnes Bain [is] the unforgettable human train wreck at the center of Douglas Stuart's novel Shuggie Bain . . . Titling the novel after Shuggie rather than the woman who dominates him seems like a small gesture of defiance on Mr. Stuart's part . . . Mr. Stuart vividly inhabits the city's singular 'Weegie' dialect and vocabulary . . . It's the obstinate Bain pride that prevents this novel from becoming a wallow in victimhood and gives it its ruined dignity."--Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

"The domestic spaces, the blighted landscape, the meanness of people, the bullying at school, the constant threat of violence, all add up to a picture of misery. Against this, however, there is an undercurrent that becomes more and more powerful, as Stuart, with great subtlety, builds up an aura of tenderness in the relationship between helpless Shuggie and his even more helpless mother . . . By drawing Agnes and Shuggie with so much texture, he makes clear that neither mother nor son can be easily seen as a victim. Instead, they emerge forcefully; they are fully, palpably present."--Colm Tóibín, Bookforum

"Astonishingly good, one of the most moving novels in recent memory."--Hillary Kelly, Los Angeles Times

"The tough portraits of Glaswegian working-class life from William McIlvanney, James Kelman, Alasdair Gray, and Agnes Owens can be felt in Shuggie Bain without either overshadowing or unbalancing the novel . . . Stuart's capacity for allowing wild contradictions to convincingly coexist is also on display in the individual vignettes that comprise the novel, blending the tragic with the funny, the unsparing with the tender, the compassionate with the excruciating. He can even pull off all of them in a single sentence . . . This overwhelmingly vivid novel is not just an accomplished debut. It also feels like a moving act of filial reverence."--James Walton, New York Review of Books

"Rarely does a debut novel establish its world with such sure-footedness, and Stuart's prose is lithe, lyrical, and full of revelatory descriptive insights . . . Reading Shuggie Bain entails a kind of archaeology, sifting through the rubble of the lives presented to find gems of consolation, brief sublime moments when the characters slip the bonds of their hardscrabble existence. That the book is never dismal or maudlin, notwithstanding its subject matter, is down to the buoyant life of its two principal characters, the heart and humanity with which they are described. Douglas Stuart has written a first novel of rare and lasting beauty."--Alex Preston, Guardian

"Douglas Stuart drags us through the 1980s childhood of 'a soft boy in a hard world' in a series of vivid, effective scenes . . . Shuggie Bain is a novel that aims for the heart and finds it. As a novel it's good, as a debut very good, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it progress from Booker longlist to shortlist."--John Self, Times (UK)

"Not only does [Stuart] clearly know his characters, he clearly loves them . . . Stuart describes their life with compassion and a keen ear for language . . . Such is Stuart's talent that this painful, sometimes excruciating story is often quite beautiful."--Barbara Lane, San Francisco Chronicle

"Shuggie Bain is Douglas Stuart's first novel, as intense and excruciating to read as any novel I have ever held in my hand . . . This novel is as much about Glasgow as it is about Shuggie and his impossible mother . . . The book's evocative power arises out of the author's talent for conjuring a place, a time, and the texture of emotion, and out of its language which is strewn with a Glaswegian argot sodden with desolation and misery . . . This is a hard, grim book, brilliantly written and, in the end, worth the pain which accompanies reading it."--Katherine A. Powers, Newsday

"With his exquisitely detailed debut novel, Douglas Stuart has given Glasgow something of what James Joyce gave to Dublin. Every city needs a book like Shuggie Bain, one where the powers of description are so strong you can almost smell the chip-fat and pub-smoke steaming from its pages, and hear the particular, localized slang ringing in your ears . . . It turns over the ugly side of humanity to find the softness and the beauty underneath . . . This beauty, against all odds, survives."--Eliza Gearty, Jacobin

"An atmospheric epic set in 1980s working-class Glasgow, Shuggie Bain, a debut novel by Douglas Stuart, focuses on the relationship between a mother and son as she battles alcoholism and he grapples with his sexuality. It's a formidable story, lyrically told, about intimacy, family, and love."--Elle

"A dysfunctional love story--an interdependence whose every attempt to thrive is poisoned whenever a drink is poured--but here, between a boy and his mother. Stuart's debut stands out for its immersion into working-class Glaswegian life, but what makes his book a worthy contender for the Booker is his portrayal of their bond, together with all its perpetual damage."--Maria Crawford, Financial Times

"Magnificent . . . Its richly rendered events will give you a lot to talk about."--O Magazine

"This is a panoramic portrait of both a family and a place, and Stuart steeps us fully in the grim decline of the Thatcher years: cheap booze, closed pits and lives lived on tick . . . Tender and unsentimental--a rare trick--and the Billy Elliot-ish character of Shuggie, when he does take the floor, leaps off the page."--Stephanie Cross, Daily Mail

"Terrifically engrossing . . . A cracking coming-of-age story--a survivor's tale you won't be able to put down."--Anthony Cummins, Metro

"A heartbreaking story about identity, addiction, and abandonment."--TIME

"An instant classic. A novel that takes place during the Thatcher years and, in a way, defines it. A novel that explores the underbelly of Scottish society. A novel that digs through the grit and grime of 1980s Glasgow to reveal a story that is at once touching and gripping. Think D.H. Lawrence. Think James Joyce . . . A literary tour de force."--Washington Independent Review of Books

"Douglas's sharp narrative perspective moves from character to character, depicting each internally and externally with astute grace, giving a complex understanding of the dynamics of the Bain family . . . Shuggie Bain is a master class in depicting the blinding dedications of love and the endless bounds to which people will go to feel in control, to feel better. It hopefully sets the tone for more beautifully devastating works of fiction to follow from Stuart in the future."--Columbia Journal

"Heartfelt and harrowing . . . [A] visceral, emotionally nuanced portrayal of working class Scottish life and its blazingly intimate exploration of a mother-son relationship."--Literary Hub

"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 . . . The emotional truth embodied here will crack you open. You will never forget Shuggie Bain. Scene by scene, this book is a masterpiece."--Kirkus Review (starred review)

"Compulsively readable . . . In exquisite detail, the book describes the devastating dysfunction in Shuggie's family, centering on his mother's alcoholism and his father's infidelities, which are skillfully related from a child's viewpoint . . . As it beautifully and shockingly illustrates how Shuggie ends up alone, this novel offers a testament to the indomitable human spirit. Very highly recommended."--Library Journal (starred review)

"Douglas Stuart's anxious novel is both a tragedy and a survival story. Shuggie is as neglected as Glasgow, but through his mother's demise, he discovers his strength. Shuggie Bain celebrates taking charge of one's own destiny."--Bookpage

"Stuart's harrowing debut follows a family ravaged by addiction in Glasgow during the Thatcher era . . . There are flashes of deep feeling that cut through the darkness . . . Will resonate with readers."--Publishers Weekly

"There's no way to fake the life experience that forms the bedrock of Douglas Stuart's wonderful Shuggie Bain. No way to fake the talent either. Shuggie will knock you sideways."--Richard Russo, author of Chances Are

"Every now and then a novel comes along that feels necessary and inevitable. I'll never forget Shuggie and Agnes or the incredibly detailed Glasgow they inhabit. This is the rare contemporary novel that reads like an instant classic. I'll be thinking and talking about Shuggie Bain--and teaching it--for quite some time."--Garrard Conley, New York Times-bestselling author of Boy Erased

"A rare and haunting ode to 1980s Glasgow and its struggling communities, Shuggie Bain tells the story of a collapsing family that is lashed together by love alone. Douglas Stuart writes with startling, searing intimacy. I fell hard for these characters; when they have nothing left, they cling maddeningly--irresistibly--to humor, pride and hope."--Chia-Chia Lin, author of The Unpassing

"Shuggie Bain is an intimate and frighteningly acute exploration of a mother-son relationship and a masterful portrait of alcoholism in Scottish working class life, rendered with old-school lyrical realism. Stuart is a writer who genuinely loves his characters and makes them unforgettable and touching even when they're at their worst. He's also just a beautiful writer; I kept being reminded of Joyce's Dubliners. I loved this book."--Sandra Newman, author of The Heavens

"A dark shining work. Raw, formidable, bursting with tenderness and frailty. The effect is remarkable, it will make you cry."--Karl Geary, author of Montpelier Parade --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

From the Publisher

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07X3RT3KP
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Picador (20 February 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1122 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 411 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 23,377 ratings

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
23,377 global ratings
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Top reviews from India

Reviewed in India on 16 September 2020
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Reviewed in India on 1 December 2020
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4.0 out of 5 stars Life in the Shambles
By Singh, R. on 1 December 2020
Even before the shortlist for the Booker was declared, seeing the longlist I already knew this is something that would interest me. I waited patiently for the night the prize was to be announced. Somehow, I knew this book would bag the prize and then I would certainly read it. Predictably, it won and I ordered the book then and there. I began reading the book the morning it arrived and it was, indeed, a read that clings to you and tugs at your heart from the first page. It is the story of a Scottish family managing their lives through economic hardships, substance abuse, physical and emotional violence in the 1980s of Glasgow. Although this book is claimed to be solely the story of Shuggie and his mother, I felt there was more to the story than them only. It was the story of the whole family struggling to remain together, hold each other and save each other from the world in their embrace that they called home. I was moved by the poignant recollection of the author's memory from what he knew of Glasgow and from his mother's own addiction as he grew up. However, I couldn't bring myself to love this novel as I had expected to, especially, given its comparison to 'A Little Life'. There was something about the language that made me take an unexpectedly longer time to finish the novel. Maybe the language did not warm up to me, or maybe Ferrante spoiled me with her prose. I have no complaints with the author as such because it was a well-written book. I could see the incidents in the novel unfold before my eyes very well. I think it is the presence of too many new characters all the time that made me difficult to concentrate on the writing. Nonetheless, the book is certainly an achievement even without the prize, that only adds to its relevance. It painfully captures heartbreaks, hopelessness and hope of a family trying to discover happiness among the dingy neighbourhoods of existence.
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Reviewed in India on 13 January 2021
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Reviewed in India on 25 February 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unordinary and Unforgettable!
By Nazarin on 25 February 2021
Shuggie Bain is a masterpiece, an astounding debut which will make your soul desperate and heart ache. Set in the 1981-1992 Glasgow, Stuart's debut novel is a fascinating reading experience, story of a 14 yr old Shuggie Bain and his mother Agnes Bain, so dark and intense, which brilliantly portrays a broken childhood and hopeless love. It includes multiple themes- poverty, abuse, addiction, gender inequality, religion etc.

Shuggie Bain is not a feel good read; it's more like a gothic fiction. The writing style will make you want more of Stuart's works as it's charming, Glasgow dialect and the subtle descriptions of each incident will never fail to take you to the unordinary and unforgettable life of Shuggie.

Shuggie and his love...he loved Agnes so much that the only thing he wanted was to make her normal, to live a normal life with her. And her alcoholism, the author is not directly sharing the physical and mental conditions of an alcoholic, but we can feel the depth of darkness inside her and she considered alcohol as an escape from the physical and mental abuse and her unfulfilled dreams. This novel is a rare one with all it's memorable characters and outspoken realities. It was a highly disturbing, yet heartbreakingly-good read, Shuggie and his unusual, painful life will always stay with you!!
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Reviewed in India on 17 January 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars “Pathos” comes to mind
By Nina Amin on 17 January 2021
What is it to live a life desperately loving a woman who constantly breaks your heart and fails you. The story of Shuggie Bain is easily one of the saddest I’ve ever read. The story of a little boy living with an alcoholic mother. I had to take pauses between reading, because Shuggie’s anxiety and desperation was so palpable. Douglas Stuart, the author says that this book was based on his own life experiences.
I just wanted to hug my own young son a little tighter as I read this incredibly well-written book.
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Reviewed in India on 21 July 2021
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3.0 out of 5 stars Made my blood boil
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 August 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brutally brilliant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 October 2020
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing portrayal
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 December 2020
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4.0 out of 5 stars THIS IS NOT A FEELGOOD BOOK.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 September 2020
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A. Hunt
4.0 out of 5 stars Tragic, well written, worth reading BUT with a few reservations...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 October 2020
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