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Young Mungo
Cover of Young Mungo
Young Mungo
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 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.
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 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.
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  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 14, 2022
    The astonishing sophomore effort from Booker Prize winner Stuart (Shuggie Bain) details a teen’s hard life in north Glasgow in the post-Thatcher years. Mungo is 15, the youngest of three Protestant siblings growing up in one of the city’s poverty-stricken “schemes.” The children’s alcoholic mother leaves them periodically for a married man with children of his own. Mungo’s father is long gone, and Mungo’s sister, Jodie, looks after their household as best she can. Hamish, Mungo’s hooligan brother and ringleader of a gang of Protestant Billy Boys, is a constant threat to Mungo, who, tender of heart and profoundly lonely, is at the mercy of his violent moods. Even after Mungo meets the kindred James, a Catholic boy who keeps pigeons, he is overwhelmed by his self-loathing, assuming all the calamity around him is somehow his fault. He doesn’t have a clue what it is he wants. All he knows is that amid the blood and alcohol and spittle-sprayed violence of his daily existence, James is a gentle, calming respite. Their friendship is the center of this touching novel, but it also leads to a terrifying and tragic intervention. Stuart’s writing is stellar—a man’s voice sounds “like he had a throatful of dry toast”; a boy has “ribs like the hull of an upturned boat.” 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. Agent: Anna Stein, ICM Partners.

  • AudioFile Magazine Chris Reilly's Scottish accent brings the bleak world of 1990s Glasgow to life. Mungo lives with his unreliable mother, his violent brother, and his protective but preoccupied sister. He finds some joy in his budding romance with another boy, James, but when they're discovered, his mother sends him on a fishing trip to "man up" with two near-strangers. Reilly's narration, especially when he's voicing the people in Mungo's life who hurt him, is full of barely repressed violence. But Reilly also captures Mungo's wonder, love, and irrepressible softness. He imbues the scenes between Mungo and James with tenderness so that their quiet exchanges become a respite for listeners. In an unforgiving story about homophobia, abuse, and shame, these brief moments of murmured endearments are especially welcome. L.S. � AudioFile 2022, Portland, Maine
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Douglas Stuart
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