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 is one of the most successful literary debuts of the century so far. It was awarded the 2020 Booker Prize, and is now published or forthcoming in 40 territories, having already sold more than a million copies worldwide. Now Stuart returns with Young Mungo, his extraordinary second novel. Five years in the writing, it is both a page-turner and literary tour de force, a vivid portrayal of working-class life and a deeply moving and highly suspenseful story of the dangerous first love of two young men: Mungo and James.
Born under different stars–Mungo a Protestant and James a Catholic–they should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all. Their environment is a hyper-masculine and sectarian one, for gangs of young men and the violence they might dole out dominate the Glaswegian estate where they live. And yet against all odds Mungo and James 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. But the threat of discovery is constant and the punishment unspeakable. And when several months later Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland, together 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 push and pull of family, the violence faced by many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.