Oct. 31, 2020 – When Hugh “Shuggie” Bain is five years old, his drunk mother Agnes calmly sets fire to the curtains in their room and clings to him as they burn, until his father rushes in to put it out.

Scottish-American author Douglas Stuart’s debut is a relentlessly grim portrait of working-class life in 1980s Glasgow, Scotland, a city gutted by then-British premier Margaret Thatcher’s Austerity policies.

Stuart, 44, who works in fashion design in New York, grew up on a Glasgow public housing estate and, like Shuggie, was the youngest son of an alcoholic single mother. She died when he was 16. Of all the novels on the Booker shortlist, his is the most draining read. It is a faithful and unflinching record of the grind of poverty and the suck…



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