by Douglas Stuart
The number one Sunday Times bestseller
‘Superb’ – The Times ‘Best Summer Reading’
‘Love and hope across the religious divide in a fervent, gritty and emotionally engrossing novel’ -The Guardian ‘Best Reads For Summer’
‘Writing of transcendent beauty’ – The Financial Times ‘Best Summer Books’
The extraordinary, powerful second novel from the Booker prizewinning author of Shuggie Bain, Young Mungo is both a vivid portrayal of working-class life and the deeply moving story of the dangerous first love of two young men: Mungo and James. Born under different stars, Protestant Mungo and Catholic James live in a hyper-masculine world. They are caught between two of Glasgow’s housing estates where young working-class men divide themselves along sectarian lines, and fight territorial battles for the sake of reputation.
They should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all, and yet they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the doocot that James has built for his prize racing pigeons. As they begin to fall in love, they dream of escaping the grey city, and Mungo must work hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his elder brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold. But the threat of discovery is constant and the punishment unspeakable.
When Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland, with two strange men behind whose drunken banter lie murky pasts, he needs to summon all his inner strength and courage to get back to a place of safety, a place where he and James might still have a future. Imbuing the everyday world of its characters with rich lyricism, Douglas Stuart’s Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the meaning of masculinity, the push and pull of family, the violence faced by so many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.
About the author
Douglas Stuart was born and raised in Glasgow. After graduating from the Royal College of Art, he moved to New York, where he began a career in fashion design. Shuggie Bain, his first novel, won the Booker Prize and both ‘Debut of the Year’ and ‘Book of The Year’ at the British Book Awards. It was also shortlisted for the US National Book Award for Fiction, among many other awards. His short stories have appeared in the New Yorker and his essay on gender, anxiety and class was published by Lit Hub. He divides his time between New York and Glasgow. Young Mungo is his second novel.
“Young Mungo seals it: Douglas Stuart is a genius . . . A tale of romantic and sexual awakening punctuated by horrific violence. . . . The raw poetry of Stuart’s prose is perfect to catch the open spirit of this handsome boy . . . Stuart quickly proves himself an extraordinarily effective thriller writer. He’s capable of pulling the strings of suspense excruciatingly tight while still sensitively exploring the confused mind of this gentle adolescent trying to make sense of his sexuality . . . But even as Stuart draws these timelines together like a pair of scissors, he creates a little space for Mungo’s future, a little mercy for this buoyant young man.”
—Ron Charles,Washington Post
“[A] bear hug of a new novel . . . It’s a classic Dickensian arc: The unwanted young lad, hoping for better things, is caught up in broader violent schemes and made to choose between the life he wants for himself and the one set out before him . . . But novelists have been flaccidly imitating the 19th century realists for so long that it’s a shock when one carries it out this successfully. Stuart oozes story. Mungo is alive. There is feeling under every word . . . This novel cuts you and then bandages you back up.”
—Hillary Kelly, Los Angeles Times
“The working-class 1980s Glasgow of Douglas Stuart’s Booker Prize-winning debut Shuggie Bain is again the setting of his follow-up Young Mungo, and with it come the violence, religious tribalism, economic depression, diehard loyalties and fatalistic humor of the era, all expressed in the crooked poetry of Glaswegian dialect . . . The crafted storylines in Young Mungo develop with purpose and converge explosively, couching all the horror and pathos within a tighter, more gripping reading experience—an impressive advancement, in other words, from an already accomplished author.”
—Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
“A nuanced and gorgeous heartbreaker of a novel . . . It’s a testament to Stuart’s unsparing powers as a storyteller that we can’t possibly anticipate how very badly—and baroquely—things will turn out. Young Mungo is a suspense story wrapped around a novel of acute psychological observation. It’s hard to imagine a more disquieting and powerful work of fiction will be published anytime soon about the perils of being different.”
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air
“Young Mungo bridges the worlds of Stuart’s earlier novel and stories . . . Stuart writes beautifully, with marvelous attunement to the poetry in the unlovely and the mundane . . . The novel conveys an enveloping sense of place, in part through the wit and musicality of its dialogue.”
—Yen Pham, New York Times Book Review
“Young Mungo is a finer novel than its predecessor, offering many of the same pleasures, but with a more sure-footed approach to narrative and a finer grasp of prose. There are sentences here that gleam and shimmer, demanding to be read and reread for their beauty and their truth . . . The way that Stuart builds towards exquisite set pieces, moments in time that take on an almost visionary aspect; the powerful and evocative descriptions of sex and nature in language that soars without ever feeling forced or purple; the manner in which he binds you into the lives of his characters, making even the most brutal and self-interested members of the family somehow not only forgivable, but lovable. I sobbed my way through Shuggie Bain and sobbed again as Young Mungo made its way towards an ending whose inevitability only serves to heighten its tragedy. If the first novel announced Stuart as a novelist of great promise, this confirms him as a prodigious talent.”
—Alex Preston, Guardian
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