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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. 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.
Bethanne Patrick is a writer and critic whose reviews and author profiles appear frequently in the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and on NPR Books. Her anthology "The Books That Changed My Life" is available from Regan Arts in paperback, and her memoir "Life B" will come out next year from Counterpoint Press. Patrick is a board VP and programs chair for PEN/Faulkner.