Well done indeed to Douglas Stuart and winning the Booker Prize with Shuggie Bain. I haven’t read it yet, but I will. From what I gather, the setting is very similar to the setting in Trainspotting: crap housing scheme, poverty, and the arrival of heroin. In both cases the background politics, the Thatcher years, are never far away. Apparently there’s a story of love between young Shuggie and his problem addicted mother – there’s another similarity, with Renton at various stages saying how much he loves his ma. There’ll be similarities also with Darren McGarvey’s Poverty Safari and Jeff Torrington’s Swing Hammer, Swing. Maybe it’s a generation thing – when folk with first-hand personal experience of the 1980s in similar circumstances find their feet, when there’s enough distance between the experience and the writing.
Not that the subject matter itself – drugs and addiction – is virgin territory. WS Burroughs and Naked Lunch, Alexander Trocchi and Cain’s Book were there earlier.
Graham MacIndoe and his photographic essay of his descent into addiction, David France and his encounter with HIV in the film (later a book) How to Survive a Plague put it into art forms other than literature. It’s fresh, visceral and shocking every time. They are voices that NEED to get their story out, and we, the punters, NEED to see, read, hear them.