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Young Mungo cover art

Young Mungo

By: Douglas Stuart
Narrated by: Chris Reilly
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Summary

Winner of The British Book Awards Fiction Audiobook of the Year. Read by Chris Reilly, a BAFTA Scotland award-winning actor and native Glaswegian, his 'beautiful narration' was praised by the BBA judges for bringing 'the written dialect to life'.

The extraordinary, powerful second novel from the Booker prizewinning author of Shuggie Bain, Young Mungo is both a vivid portrayal of working-class life and the deeply moving story of the dangerous first love of two young men: Mungo and James.

Born under different stars, Protestant Mungo and Catholic James live in a hyper-masculine world. They are caught between two of Glasgow’s housing estates where young working-class men divide themselves along sectarian lines, and fight territorial battles for the sake of reputation. They should be sworn enemies if they’re to be seen as men at all, and yet they become best friends as they find a sanctuary in the doocot that James has built for his prize racing pigeons. As they begin to fall in love, they dream of escaping the grey city, and Mungo must work hard to hide his true self from all those around him, especially from his elder brother Hamish, a local gang leader with a brutal reputation to uphold.

But the threat of discovery is constant and the punishment unspeakable. When Mungo’s mother sends him on a fishing trip to a loch in Western Scotland, with two strange men behind whose drunken banter lie murky pasts, he needs to summon all his inner strength and courage 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, Douglas Stuart’s Young Mungo is a gripping and revealing story about the meaning of masculinity, the push and pull of family, the violence faced by so many queer people, and the dangers of loving someone too much.

©2022 Douglas Stuart (P)2022 Macmillan Publishers International Limited

Critic reviews

'Prepare your hearts, for Douglas Stuart is back. After the extraordinary success of Shuggie Bain, his second novel, Young Mungo, is another beautiful and moving book, a gay Romeo and Juliet set in the brutal world of Glasgow’s housing estates' - Observer

'A touching, tender tale of boy meets boy in the bleak tenements of Glasgow . . . Superb' – The Times ‘Best Summer Reading’

'Reilly’s narration, especially when he’s voicing the people in Mungo’s life who hurt him, is full of barely repressed violence. But Reilly also captures Mungo’s wonder, love, and irrepressible softness' - Audiofile magazine

What listeners say about Young Mungo

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Absolutely Brilliant

Another stunning novel! How to begin to describe the emotions stirred, the reflections forced and the sheer brilliance of this book? The writing is so, so clever… you don’t have to be Scottish, Gay, Male, Poor, Neglected or any other character in this book to find something to relate to or to feel
Strongly about. The narration is powerful and had me stopping stock still to really listen at times. Such a moving, gripping story - I couldn’t recommend more.

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Higher Love..

Heartbreaking and powerful.  It would be easy to say that this is 'Heartstopper' put through an Irvine Welsh blender but Stuart is very much his own writer and the control in the prose here is unforgettable. In many ways this feels like a continuation of Shuggie Bain's story. Different named mother and siblings but all familiar. Mungo is a beautiful creation. A kind gentle soul in the wrong place at the wrong time. At odds with the tough world of his family and the sectarian ghetto neighborhood he's brought up in, his spirit, like his flesh, takes one pounding after another. When he eventually finds love it brings him into even more danger. Just when the set backs, disappointments and abuses can border on despair there's a gasp of air here or hope there. Despite the constant little cruelties there's moments of true tenderness and affection. Above all there's compassion, sometimes even for the perpetrators who are often victims themselves. Some of the greatest love stories ever told are set against external forces like war or catastrophe. Here young Mungo is a prisoner of circumstance from the moment he was born. You're left rooting for him all way..

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Bleak and brilliant

I think this is a sort of masterpiece. It won't be to everyone's taste, as it is unremitting in its examination of lives that are blighted by poverty, prejudice, neglect and hopelessness. But there are some very warm hearted people among the cast of characters and some humour to balance in part the horror. The narrator is spot on. Congratulations to him. This is such a truthful, fascinating and ultimately uplifting story I can't recommend it too highly. But be prepared for some very uncomfortable listening at times. Superb.

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Lovable Mungo

Another great book, spoilt personally for me by the narration.

The narrators scottish accent makes this story come alive, however he has no real intonation, strength and meaning when he connects with the prose.

The story line is quite harrowing, very sad and dark. However there is no difference when Chris Reilly reads a fight scene or a tender moment, which kind of spoilt it for me.

Like Shuggie Bain, this book is not an easy listen, brooding with deep supressed emotion

So if you like Douglas Stuart’s previous work you will like this too, but may be listen to the sample first.

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This broke me

Wow…. This is a beautiful read.

I’m finding it hard to summarise this book. A coming of age story? A love story? A story of nature vs nurture. None of these feel they do it justice.

This book stands out in a class of its own. It is a must-read. Not since reading ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanigahara have I been so affected by a piece of literature. It’s a masterpiece, I look forward to reading the author’s other work.

The book was masterfully read, the narrator was excellent at forming a voice for each of the characters. Bravo!

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Painfully beautiful

As in Shuggie Bain, Stuart manages to find beauty between anguish. The story is rich, dark, beautiful, painful, passionate. The characters are so well formed that they left a hole in my days when the book ended, I was eager to know more, where did life take them next?
Reilly is a fantastic narrator, hitting the perfect tone for this story.
A must-listen!

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An Absolute Triumph

I read Shuggie Bain and loved it but Young Mungo is one of those books that touch your soul, Mungo and James are characters who will remain with me !

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masterpiece

this may be my favorite book of all time. Stuart captures perfectly the essence of teen discovery and feeling within the glasgow environment. the writing is rich and brutal, and beautifully portrays the life of a young boy trapped within a community in which he doesn’t belong. 10/10!

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An instant classic.

This is a better book than Shuggie Bain, it's beautiful, powerful. There is something profoundly moving about the tentative hope that clings to Mungo. It's also terrifying, and brutal, but suffused with such love that your heart is with the protagonist all the way through. like Shuggie you desperately want to know that Mungo survived, where he is now. Bravo Douglas Stuart for producing a work that has changed me.

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absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful

I sought out another book by Diuglas Stuart after having my emotions juggled by Shugie Bairn.it did not disappoint. The way he writes is so beautiful and the subject leaves your heart broken. its gritty realism at its absolute best. I dont know what I will do now I have finished it. the narration was absolutely perfect.

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