A story of queer love and working-class families, Young Mungo is the brilliant second novel from the Booker Prize-winning author of Shuggie Bain.
Douglas Stuart's first novel Shuggie Bain, winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, is one of the most...Read More
Douglas Stuart's first novel Shuggie Bain, winner of the 2020 Booker Prize, is one of the most successful literary debuts of the century so far. Published or forthcoming in forty territories, it has sold more than one million copies worldwide. Now Stuart returns with Young Mungo, his extraordinary second novel. Both a page-turner and literary tour de force, it is a vivid portrayal of working-class life and a deeply moving and highly suspenseful story of the dangerous first love of two young men.
Growing up in a housing estate in Glasgow, Mungo and James are born under different stars - Mungo a Protestant and James a Catholic - and they should be sworn enemies if they're to be seen as men at all. Yet against all odds, they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the pigeon dovecote that James has built for his prize racing birds. As they fall in love, they dream of finding somewhere they belong, while Mungo works hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his big brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold. And when several months later Mungo's mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland with two strange men whose drunken banter belies murky pasts, he will need to summon all his inner strength and courage to try 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 and giving full voice to people rarely acknowledged in the literary world, Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the bounds of masculinity, the divisions of sectarianism, the violence faced by many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.
Douglas Stuart is a Scottish-American author. His New York Times-bestselling debut novel Shuggie Bain won the 2020 Booker Prize and the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. It was the winner of two British Book Awards, including Book of the Year, and was a finalist for the National Book Award, PEN/Hemingway Award, National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, Kirkus Prize, as well as several other literary awards. Stuart's writing has appeared in the New Yorker and Literary Hub.
"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
"When a romance develops between two teenage boys (one Protestant, one Catholic) in a Glasgow housing project, the danger of discovery is all too real. Like Shuggie Bain, the author's acclaimed debut, this is a raw, tender and generous story of love and survival in tough circumstances." - People
"Exhilarating, heartbreaking . . . The book shares a few similarities with Shuggie Bain, but Young Mungo is more brutal, more suspenseful . . . An edgy, relentless urgency. The language is gorgeous, poetic, expertly evoking the dour streets of Glasgow and its people . . . Stuart shows us so much ugliness, but he offers a promise of hope, too. This book will hurt your heart, so reach for that hope." - Connie Ogle, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"The novels share a brutality and a squirmy, claustrophobic evocation of family life. And they offer a world of exquisite detail: If a perfume creator wished to bottle the olfactory landscape of post-Thatcher-era Glasgow, all the necessary ingredients could be found in Stuart's descriptions of sausage grease, fruity fortified wine, pigeon droppings and store-bought hair bleach . . . There is crazy greatness in Young Mungo." - Molly Young, New York Times
"[Stuart's] mesmerizing new novel recasts Romeo and Juliet with two teenage boys as the leads. Set in 1992 Glasgow, Young Mungo recalls the religious turmoil between Catholics and Protestants in Scotland's largest city, pummeled by the iron fist of Margaret Thatcher's fiscal policies, perpetuating a vicious code of behavior among working-class men. A marvel of language." - Oprah Daily
"Across the 800 pages of his two novels, Stuart has been inking a great Hogarthian print, a postmodern Scottish Gin Lane. He can be sardonically funny but he always gets back to scaring the hell out of you and breaking your heart . . . There is right now no novelist writing more powerfully than Douglas Stuart. A strong measure of his success lies in how the reader, while appreciating the artistry of each harrowing scene, continually thinks: Please let it end." - Thomas Mallon, Air Mail
"Page-turning, beautifully written . . . In a narrative that weaves seamlessly back and forth between the camping trip and Mungo's life before the trip, Stuart creates a world we can almost feel." - Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star
"Readers might fear that Stuart has written the same book a second time. In several obvious ways, that is true. But Stuart makes the small differences count, of which the most important is that Mungo is older than Shuggie, and beginning to see in his sexuality not just a source of difference and alienation but a possible route to escape and emancipation . . . The tension of the romance is expertly sustained, as is the sense of the real heroism of being a star-crossed lover in a Jets and Sharks world . . . The risk of sentimentality is always there, as it was in Shuggie Bain. But Young Mungo is a braver book, and more truthful, for his having taken that risk." - Telegraph
"Richly abundant. It spills over with colourful characters and even more colourful insults. And like a Dickens novel it has a moral vision that's expansive and serious while being savagely funny." - Times (UK)
"The Sighthill tenement where Shuggie Bain, Stuart's Booker Prize-winning debut, unfurled is glimpsed in his follow-up, set in the 1990s in an adjacent neighborhood. You wouldn't think you'd be eager to return to these harsh, impoverished environs, but again this author creates characters so vivid, dilemmas so heart-rending, and dialogue so brilliant that the whole thing sucks you in like a vacuum cleaner . . . Romantic, terrifying, brutal, tender, and, in the end, sneakily hopeful. What a writer." - Kirkus Reviews
"The astonishing sophomore effort from Booker Prize winner Stuart details a teen's hard life in north Glasgow in the post-Thatcher years . . . Stuart's writing is stellar . . . He's too fine a storyteller to go for a sentimental ending, and the final act leaves the reader gutted. This is unbearably sad, more so because the reader comes to cherish the characters their creator has brought to life. It's a sucker punch to the heart." - Publishers Weekly
"A searing, gorgeously written portrait of a young gay boy trying to be true to himself in a place and time that demands conformity to social and gender rules . . . Stuart's tale could be set anywhere that poverty, socioeconomic inequality, or class struggles exist, which is nearly everywhere. But it is also about the narrowness and failure of vision in a place where individuals cannot imagine a better life, where people have never been outside their own neighborhood . . . Stuart's prize-winning, best-selling debut, Shuggie Bain, ensures great enthusiasm for his second novel of young, dangerous love." - Booklist