Welcome to the Book Marks Questionnaire, where we ask authors questions about the books that have shaped them.
This week, we spoke to the author of Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart.
Book Marks: First book you remember loving?
Douglas Stuart: I read Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City as a closeted young man. That book got me through some lonely times.
BM: Favorite re-read?
DS: Young Adam by Alexander Trocchi.
BM: What book do you think your book is most in conversation with?
DS: Perhaps Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh or How Late it Was, How Late by James Kelman, but in many ways Shuggie Bain is the voice of the people who suffer through the decisions made by the Thatcher-loving elite in The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst.
BM: A book that blew your mind?
DS: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. The author is totally committed and courageous.
BM: Last book you read?
DS: How Much of These Hills is Gold by C Pam Zhang.
BM: A book that made you cry?
DS: A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines. I love young, hopeless Billy Casper. I cry at the scene where Billy’s English teacher is teaching his students the difference between fact and fiction. When the teacher asks the class to write a ‘tall-tale,’—something that cannot possibly be true—and Billy writes about coming from a happy, peaceful home, that breaks my heart.
BM: What book from the past year would you like to give a shout-out to?
DS: You Will Never be Forgotten by Mary South.
BM: A book that actually made you laugh out loud?
DS: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.
BM: What’s one book you wish you had read during your teenage years?
DS: As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann.
BM: Favorite book to give as a gift?
DS: Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin.
BM: Classic book you hate?
DS: Hate is a strong word, but I never liked Lord of The Flies by William Golding. They forced us to read it in school, and as working-class Scottish kids, we all sat there, wishing these private school kids would hurry up and die.
BM: Classic book on your To Be Read pile?
DS: I have never read any Dickens.
BM: What’s a book with a really great sex scene?
DS: The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst is a masterclass in queer desire.
BM: Favorite book no one has heard of?
DS: Gentlemen of The West by Agnes Owens.
BM: Favorite book of the 21st century?
DS: Edinburgh by Alexander Chee.
BM: Favorite book you were assigned in high school?
DS: Jude The Obscure by Thomas Hardy.
BM: Book(s) you’re reading right now?
DS: Daughters of Smoke and Fire by Ava Homa and Your Fault by Andrew Cowan.
BM: Favorite children’s book?
DS: Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl.
BM: Book you wish would be adapted for a film/tv show?
DS: The Persian Boy by Mary Renault. I would love to see the trials of Alexander The Great told through the eyes of his gelded lover, Bagoas. Also, K.J. Apa in a toga, might be the cure we all need right now.
Douglas Stuart was born and raised in Glasgow. After graduating from the Royal College of Art in London, he moved to New York City, where he began a career in fashion design. Shuggie Bain is his first novel and has been shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and the Kirkus Prize, and longlisted for the National Book Award. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker and Literary Hub.
Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain is out in paperback from Grove Press on October 13