Booker prize winner Douglas Stuart was showered with praise for his gritty novel Shuggie Bain.
And now he is back again with another powerful and emotive book which pays tribute to his Glasgow roots and is told with sensitivity and real insight into the raw world of relationships.
It tells the tale of Mungo Hamilton, born in the late 1970s and who grows up in a tenement in Glasgow with his older siblings and erratic mother, to whom he is devoted.
The key to the story is when Protestant Mungo meets James (Jamie) Jamieson, a slightly older Catholic boy, who keeps a dovecote near the ground of the housing scheme where they both live.
They fall in love and plan to escape their dull world, but it’s not as easy as they would like, because Mungo’s family would not approve of the same sex relationship or James’s religion.
The reader is taken on a bumpy journey, full of emotions and hardships as Mungo struggles to live with his mother’s drinking and sister Jodie and brother Hamish, who have a very different outlook on life.
Mungo and Jamie are trapped in a housing estate which is divided by religion and working class gangs who fight territorial battles for the sake of their reputations.
In their world, the boys should be enemies, but they fall in love and embrace the gentleness they bring each other as they seek sanctuary in the dovecote.
They spend their days literally trying to survive and not have their love discovered. On a trip to Loch Lomond with two strange men and organised by his mother, Mungo struggles to live with the drunken banter and to get back to a place of relative safety.
It’s obvious Stuart is a skilled writer, and the book is gripping, if slightly depressing, in every way. Stuart’s turn of phrase and sheer appetite for detail, reveal fabulous story telling.
The book is testament to the meaning of masculinity, the push and pull of family dynamics and the violence faced by gay people and the dangers of loving too much.
A truly inspiring read and one which will see the reader grasping for more.
Publication date: 14th April 2022
UK Price: £16.99
Format: Hardback, portrait format
By Douglas Stuart
Published by Picador
For more information and to purchase a copy of the book, please visit: www.picador.com.
Rebecca Hay is an experienced travel writer and member of The British Guild of Travel Writers. Follow her adventures with her family on Twitter and Instagram @emojiadventurer and on Facebook via EmojiAdventurers2.