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Book Review: Young Mungo – Douglas Stuart

Young Mungo is the brilliant second novel from the Booker Prize-winning author, Douglas Stuart. It’s a queer tale that packs in sectarianism, alcoholism, and trauma within 1980s Glasgow; a significant but not lighthearted read. It’s a page-turner, with poetic and literary prose: Stuart paints another vivid portrayal of working-class life, with his emotive and suspenseful tale of love and trauma.

Growing up in a Glasgow scheme, Mungo and James are born under different stars – Mungo a Protestant and James a Catholic . The story is set during a time when being sworn enemies is the norm for two from these religions. Despite this, they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the pigeon dovecote that James has built for his prize racing birds. The relationship unfolds to become a first love, and it soon becomes obvious that they need to ensure family and parents do not find out. As things develop, Mo-Maw, Mungo’s mother, sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in the west of Scotland with two men she knows due to her alcoholic tendencies. This is the time in which his strength and endurance is most needed, summoning detachment and a sense of brutality to allow him to find safety.

With rich and fully-fleshed characters that we feel tangible emotion for, Young Mungo is a fascinating read that combines deeply affecting content with a typical dry, west coast humour and prose that will make you invest your time to finish the tale.

Young Mungo is published by Picador Books on 14th April

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