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Douglas Stuart Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Douglas Stuart is an American-Scottish author best known for his debut novel “Shuggie Bain” that he published in 2010. Given the popularity of the novel, it was republished in the UK by Picador and is set to be published in nearly a dozen languages. Stuart wrote his debut novel over a decade and is currently working on “Loch Awe” his second novel. He had also published “Found Wanting” a short piece of fiction that was featured in The New Yorker and went viral. He has also worked with Lit Hub and published the “Poverty, Anxiety, and Gender” essay. Douglas is a born and bred Glaswegian that went to London’s Royal College of Art for his master’s degree. Since the year 2000, he has been living in New York.

Stuart got his first start in writing as a seven-year-old when he started to ghostwrite his mother’s autobiography. His father had abandoned the family when he was but a boy and her mother would dictate her biography half-drunk from lager as he wrote away. However, his mother never got past the dedication page though his desire to become a storyteller never waned. While Douglas never had the luxury of reading books since there weren’t any at his house, he loved making up stories. By the time he was a six-year-old, everything about his life almost felt like a work of fiction and hence he for the most part pretended to fit in. He was always hiding from the children in school and his neighborhood and as a frequent victim of bullying, he often lied and pretended to his mother that everything was alright. He often hid what was happening to him from the outside world and his family and started telling himself stories to cope. When he graduated from high school and went to college, he decided to do English literature but given his background, his mother and his teachers discouraged from majoring in literature. As such, he studied and then went on to practice in the textile industry during which time he also began penning his debut novel “Shuggie Bain.” He began working in menswear fashion design and hence he had all his early mornings free to write his novel. He believed his future lay in design and hence he convinced himself that he was writing the novel for himself and would not dare think that it would one day be published. This served him well as he had no pressure which brought out his creativity even more.

As a Glaswegian, Douglas Stuart has said that it was very important to capture the essence of Glasgow in his works. He believes that where one comes from is critical in determining what they become and hence even if someone moves away from home, they will always be influenced by their upbringing. He has always loved his hometown of Glasgow though he has a complicated relationship with it. As such, his debut novel “Shuggie Bain” is something of a love story to his hometown though unlike other love stories, it is not about fawning but presenting the city with all its positives and negatives. It comes with the Scottish directness and hence Stuart lays it all out rather than pretending that his life in Glasgow was paradise. It is a city full of contrasts with the deprivation and devastation yet the people remained fiercely proud and strong. He has asserted that he is yet to meet anyone kinder, warmer, and full of dark humor as compared to the Glaswegians. Both the narrator in his short story “Found Wanting” and that in “Shuggie Bain” are informed by his own experiences. In the novels, he draws upon the happenings in his life to tell a story. The lead protagonist in his novel is a fifteen-year-old boy while “Found Wanting” picks up from where the debut novel left off. Douglas tells the story of what happens to the narrator as he becomes sexually mature while Shuggie Bain is a story of childhood and early teenage life. Nonetheless, the lead of the novel is more of a portrait while “Found Wanting’s” narrator is something of a sketch akin to what you would expect in a lonely heart letter.

Douglas Stuart’s “Shuggie Bain” is the story of a lonely and sweet boy named Hugh “Shuggie” Bain who lives in derelict public housing in Glasgow during the 1980s. The prime minister’s policies have put sons and husbands out of work and the notorious epidemic of drugtaking is just around the corner. Shuggie’s mother is a wayward woman who is supposed to be a guiding light but is instead a burden for him and his brothers. Agnes fantasizes about a home with a private front door and flicks through the pages of magazines looking at houses while ordering everything and anything she can on credit to brighten up her dreary life. She is the wife to an unfaithful taxi driver husband but keeps her pride by trying as much as possible to keep an image of a wealthy Glaswegian by ensuring she always has pearly white teeth and makeup. But despite the brave façade, she is increasingly finding comfort in drink, where much of the weekly benefits are wasted. It is a terrible way to spend the family’s money but she cannot resist the cans of strong lager that she pours into tea mugs or hides in handbags to consume later. Shuggie’s older siblings do whatever they can to be away from their mother but Shuggie cannot do the same which means that he has to care for Agnes in between her bouts of sobriety and alcoholic binges. Meanwhile, Shuggie is struggling to attain a form of normalcy but everyone knows that he is nothing near normal. Agnes loves her son but her addiction is too strong that it eclipses everything including her support for her son. Shuggie Bain is a heartrending story of love, sexuality, and addiction. It is an excellent depiction of a working-class family struggling to survive never before seen in genre fiction. It is brilliant work that harks back to the works of Hanya Yanagihara, Frank McCourt, Edouard Louis, and Alan Hollinghurst.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Douglas Stuart

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