Winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart is a heart-wrenching tale of childhood in Scotland in the 1980’s amongst addiction, poverty and sexuality. This is my Book Review Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.
Reminiscent of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, but set in Glasgow of the 1980’s, we are introduced to Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a child in search of love in a family of misfits, violence and addiction. Shuggie lives in rundown public housing during the Thatcher era of the 1980’s. Unemployment, drug and alcohol addiction, hunger and poverty are what Shuggie’s childhood is made of.
Shuggie’s loyalty to his alcoholic mother, Agnes, even after his siblings give up on her and walk away, leaves Shuggie to care for his mother who falls deeper into drink. Agnes spends all the weekly ration money on alcohol, often leaving Shuggie without food for days. Agnes’ search for love in every man who comes along always ends in heartache and rape, taking her deeper into the drink.
Stuart tells a story of heartache and addiction, a story of his own childhood played out in the pages of Shuggie Bain. Despite the depressing tale Stuart develops an incredible collection of characters who pass through Shuggie’s life, all told with depth and compassion.
Don’t let the sadness of this story keep you from it – it is an important book to read, and well deserved of the coveted Booker Prize. Brilliant.
*****Five Stars for Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart.
My current read The Burning by Megha Majumdar
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