In 1981, Glasgow is dying and good families grift to survive. Agnes Bain has always expected more out of 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 fake, teeth). As she descends deeper into alcohol, her three children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves.
Shuggie Bain, the youngest, holds out hope the longest. Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he’s picked on by the miner’s children and even the adults condemn him to be no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he practices his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.
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A dark shining work. Raw, formidable, bursting with tenderness and frailty. The effect is remarkable, it will make you cry.
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.
New York Times Bestselling Author of 'Boy Erased'
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.
Author of 'The Heavens'
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
Author of Chances Are
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.
Author of 'The Unpassing'
You will never forget Shuggie Bain. Scene by scene, this book is a masterpiece.