Award Winners: The British Book Awards’ Overall Book of the Year – Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

The final panel of judges at The British Book Awards’ crowned the winner of Fiction: Debut Book of the Year, Shuggie Bain, as Overall Book of the Year. They felt that Douglas Stuart’s novel was a “masterpiece” that would stand the test of time. Judges described the novel as “immensely powerful: haunting, traumatic and yet tender at the same time”, and commended Stuart’s “unapologetic and vivid” depictions of alcoholism, poverty and pain against the backdrop of 1980s Glasgow and Margaret Thatcher’s prime ministership. What also swung it Shuggie Bain’s way was the publisher’s unwavering enthusiasm and passion for the novel, with the panel praising Picador’s ability to recognize the potential and importance of this book after it was rejected by a dozen other British publishers.

Purchase your copy here.

Back Cover Copy of Shuggie Bain:

Shuggie Bain is the unforgettable story of young Hugh “Shuggie” Bain, a sweet and lonely boy who spends his 1980s childhood in run-down public housing in Glasgow, Scotland. Thatcher’s policies have put husbands and sons out of work, and the city’s notorious drugs epidemic is waiting in the wings.

Shuggie’s mother Agnes walks a wayward path: she is Shuggie’s guiding light but a burden for him and his siblings. She dreams of a house with its own front door while she flicks through the pages of the Freemans catalogue, ordering a little happiness on credit, anything to brighten up her grey life. Married to a philandering taxi-driver husband, Agnes keeps her pride by looking good—her beehive, make-up, and pearly-white false teeth offer a glamorous image of a Glaswegian Elizabeth Taylor. But under the surface, Agnes finds increasing solace in drink, and she drains away the lion’s share of each week’s benefits—all the family has to live on—on cans of extra-strong lager hidden in handbags and poured into tea mugs. Agnes’s older children find their own ways to get a safe distance from their mother, abandoning Shuggie to care for her as she swings between alcoholic binges and sobriety. Shuggie is meanwhile struggling to somehow become the normal boy he desperately longs to be, but everyone has realized that he is “no right,” a boy with a secret that all but him can see. Agnes is supportive of her son, but her addiction has the power to eclipse everyone close to her—even her beloved Shuggie.

A heartbreaking story of addiction, sexuality, and love, Shuggie Bain is an epic portrayal of a working-class family that is rarely seen in fiction. Recalling the work of Édouard Louis, Alan Hollinghurst, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist who has a powerful and important story to tell.

About Douglas Stuart:

Douglas Stuart is a Scottish – American author.  His debut novel, Shuggie Bain, is shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize and also for the National Book Award for Fiction.  Shuggie Bain is also a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and a finalist for The Center for Fiction First novel prize. It is longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.  Douglas wrote Shuggie Bain over a ten year period and is currently at work on his second novel. His short stories, Found Wanting, and The Englishman, were both published in The New Yorker magazine. His writing on Gender, Anxiety and Poverty can be found on Lit Hub.

Born in Glasgow, Scotland, he is a graduate of The Royal College of Art, and since 2000 he has lived and worked in New York City.  Check out his website here:

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