Nicola Sturgeon praises Douglas Stuart novel after reading advance copy

Young Mungo will be published in April.
Young Mungo will be published in April. Young Mungo will be published in April.

Nicola Sturgeon has said that Booker prize winner Douglas Stuart is taking his place as “one of the greats of Scottish literature” as she praised his second novel.

Scotland’s First Minister thanked the publisher for allowing her to read an advance copy of Young Mungo, which is due to be published in April.

She praised the book as “exquisitely written” and said it surpasses his debut novel Shuggie Bain, which won the Booker Prize in 2020.

Publisher Pan Macmillan describes Young Mungo as “a vivid portrayal of working-class life and the deeply moving story of the dangerous first love of two young men: Mungo and James”.

Douglas Stuart
Douglas Stuart Douglas Stuart won the Booker Prize with Shuggie Bain (David Parry/PA)

Ms Sturgeon, renowned for her love of reading, tweeted: “So, @Doug_D_Stuart I wasn’t sure this could live up to Shuggie Bain, but it surpasses it.

“Deeply harrowing but gently infused with hope & love. And so exquisitely written.

“It’s a joy to watch, in real time, as you take your place as one of the greats of Scottish literature.”

The Glasgow-born writer spoke about his new book when he was interviewed by Ms Sturgeon at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last August.

He said Young Mungo was written before he was long listed for the Booker Prize and that it “comes from a personal place”.

Stuart said: “It’s a story about two young men. Writing Shuggie asked me a question. It asked me about Shuggie’s sexuality, it asked me about what we did to young men, working class men, what we expect of them, how we hurt them, as we do.

“And I couldn’t answer that in this book… so I wanted to go away and look at two teenage boys growing up in 1991 in the East End of Glasgow, one of the most deprived neighbourhoods like I grew up in myself, and just sort of think about masculinity in that way.

“So these two boys are divided by territorial gangs, scheme gangs, but they fall in love across the divide.

“The book is told in two separate parts, where we look at Glasgow and the blossoming of their love, but then the protagonist is sent to the north of Scotland, he doesn’t know where, to make a man out of him.

“It’s a trip that has disastrous consequences for everyone involved.”

Stuart became only the second Scottish writer to win the Booker Prize when he was recognised for Shuggie Bain, which was inspired by his childhood in 1980s Glasgow.