“The Young Mungo” by Douglas Stuart

Ilaria Falcone

shuggi ban story It was a great debut in the world of literature; Author Douglas Stuart received the Booker Prize 2020, the most important literary award.
Set in Glasgow in 1981, the novel portrays the social and political reality of the working class through the heartwarming, but sometimes whisper, story of a mother and her three children. whereas shuggi ban story Immediately attracts attention, Suart’s new novel, The Young MungoIt takes several pages to immerse the reader in his story, which is more brutal than the previous one.

There are two temporal planes, everything happens between the present and the recent past.
We are still in Glasgow, in working-class neighborhoods full of despair, but a decade later, around 1993.
Mungo is the third (after thug Hammish and the domineering duo) teenage son of a 34-year-old alcoholic Ma-Mo, who spends weeks away from home and associates with anonymous alcoholics for fun. The father died when Mungo was young, but he chose a Scottish patriotic name, a saint, to give to his son. The boy has a nervous tic, hives on one cheek, but has the characteristics of impeccable sweetness. One day, a 15-year-old Protestant who has already lived several lives, James, a Catholic, falls in love. The tragedy of his life so far is nothing for what awaits him. Because homosexual love cannot be imagined in that masculine and homophobic environment. Also imagine the friendship between a Protestant and a Catholic. Nobody takes pity on them. Not even Mungo’s mother who sends her son out fishing with two ugly thugs who are his friends of anonymous alcoholics.

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Even Douglas Stuart doesn’t take pity on bringing the reader into that hostile, terrifying and violent environment, using words that make noises similar to broken bones. This style, more extreme than his first novel, leads the author to commit excesses that are sometimes redundant, a bit too much. Romeo and Juliet a little too much Story of the West.

The fact is that Stuart, narrating in the third person, manages to make the reader feel relentless and alluring for his protagonist. No one is rescued. There is no hope, only a young man in search of salvation.

This is not a suitable novel for everyone. It is a book that needs the right time and moment to read.

Douglas Stuart, The Young Mungo, Mondadori Edition 2022, page 456, €22


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