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.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
This is Stuart’s follow up to his debut Booker Prize-winning novel, Shuggie Bain, and while both books define themselves by a fractured Glaswegian family with an unreliable and fragile mother, Young Mungo turns toward the fifteen-year-old title character (named after the patron saint of Glasgow) as he navigates both first love and unrelenting danger.
This is a challenging novel of cruelty and carelessness where conflict – ideological and physical – persists, but Stuart’s compassionate mastery of language and storytelling provides an unexpected and gleaming tenderness.
– Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, USA