"ONE of the things I was pretty adamant about is not lessening the Scots or the Glaswegian dialect in the literature,” bestselling Scottish author Douglas Stuart recounts from his flat in New York.

And despite more than 40 initial rejections, ­Stuart became the second Scot to win the prestigious ­Booker Prize for his debut novel Shuggie Bain – its dialogue written entirely in Scots.

Publishers underestimated readers, Stuart did not.

Written mostly on his commutes between work as a fashion designer, Shuggie Bain explores the impact of deindustrialisation and the subsequent economic decline it had on Glaswegians – particularly on ­women and children – through the story of young Shuggie and his mother Agnes.

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Inspired by his own life growing up in a housing estate in Sighthill, Shuggie Bain is a harrowing story which shines a light on the experiences felt by many in Glasgow.

And like his home city, Douglas Stuart has changed a fair bit since the 70s. When he was just 16, his mother died from alcohol-related health ­issues. His ­attendance at school was already “spotty”, as Stuart once put it, a mix of caring responsibilities and bullying keeping him away.

With some life-changing encouragement from art teachers, Stuart managed to get into the Scottish ­College of Textiles (now Herriot-Watt University).

From the east end to the East Village

From there he was talent scouted by a Calvin Klein rep and was asked to work for them in New York. So he packed his bags and 3200 miles later he made a successful career working for high-end fashion brands.

The National: Douglas Stuart always comes back to Glasgow, in person and in his writingDouglas Stuart always comes back to Glasgow, in person and in his writing

This doesn’t mean Stuart has abandoned the Scots commonly used in places such as Sighthill, as ­readers of Shuggie Bain and his latest book Young Mungo will know.

“It’s been amazing to see people, they stumble a little bit for the first 20 pages, it takes them a minute but it’s a bit like hearing a song: you soon start to understand the rhythm of it, and the patter and the cadence and they fold in and it becomes a much more immersive experience for the reader.

“But definitely writing in a Glaswegian vernacular was seen as an obstacle to publication.”

Since 2000, Stuart has lived in New York City. He laughs when asked how well ­Americans understand him.

“Terrible,” he says. “I don’t know if my accent has changed. It must have changed over the years. There’s no point in ­being in communication – which ­fashion ­design is, which literature is – if you can’t ­communicate and people can’t understand you. So, sure, my accent has softened over the years.”

Code switching: going from one voice, accent or language to another is a part of many Glaswegian’s upbringing, Stuart says.

He says: “I write about that a lot in Shuggie Bain because Agnes falls prey to it. She falls for the con. She wants to talk like a BBC newscaster because she believes, and well she was right, that was the way for upward mobility in the ­United Kingdom at the time.

“We had to speak in the Queen’s ­English and what it does it increases the isolation for Agnes in Shuggie Bain ­because of course it makes their ­neighbours look at them and be like ‘who are you? Who do you think you are?’”

The National: Glasgow has changed markedly since the 1970s - but has it all been for the better?Glasgow has changed markedly since the 1970s - but has it all been for the better?

The city has changed since Agnes’ time, for better or for worse. But despite its evolution, it remains a troubled place in some people’s eyes.

The two sides of Glasgow

GLASGOW has always been a ­two-sided city. As Kevin Bridges jokes, it was ­labelled the friendliest place in the UK and the murder capital of Europe in the same week. The second city of the empire yet also commonly dubbed the sick man of Europe. Home to one of the trendiest areas in the world whilst holding the worst life expectancy in Scotland.

Stuart takes a breath after being asked if Glasgow is a better city now when he moved.

“That’s a tough question,” he says. “That’s a whole PhD.

“I think yes and no. I think the city has entirely changed in the fact it’s no longer an industrial city.

“It doesn’t rely on heavy industry as it did when I was a boy and I think it’s a city that’s also not changed in the fact that it remains the compassionate and creative place that won’t tolerate any type of ­pomposity or artifice or any sort of bigging yourself up, however you want to say it.

“So, in a way Glasgow remains its core self – but there’s certainly much more ­opportunity and much more openness to the wider world.”

Regardless of opinion, this Dear Green Place has never been a Garden of Eden, as the recent drugs deaths statistics show. Glasgow has the highest rate of drugs deaths in Scotland, the country that shamefully holds the title of highest rate of drugs deaths in Europe.

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“In truth, there are still too many ­people in addiction, too many people ­dying from alcoholism, too many people dying from drugs,” the author says.

And when heavy industry fell in the 70s and 80s, communities were decimated a profound social impact. Many of those whose fathers or grandfathers worked on the Clyde would go on to insecure, low-paid work in places such as call centres and delivery companies.

The author continues: “I think what profoundly changed is when I was a kid there was still a sense of community ­because the working class formed around very few employers and also around ­unions that your father might have been a part of. I think what Thatcher did is she dissolved a lot of that and so people might feel a lot lonelier in their circumstances and that includes kids.”

'It’s a city that’s utterly transformed in its acceptance of queerness'

It’s not all bad news though. Glasgow is a Unesco city of music and with a vibrant culture comes a variety lived experience.

“It’s a city that’s utterly transformed in its acceptance of queerness,” he says. “And it’s done it very quickly and I think that’s something we should celebrate and be incredibly proud of.

“I think it was voted the ninth best place in the word to be gay last year which is remarkable. Really remarkable.”

However, we mustn’t erase all aspects of the city’s history when we see “massive improvements”, Stuart says.

“We have to be very honest about it [the history] for fear that we will repeat it or that it will echo.

“The truth is growing up in the 70s, 80s and 90s in Glasgow in what was ­essentially a deindustrialising patriarchy where masculinity, even for heterosexual men, was a very narrow expression. It was a pretty dark, bleak place to be queer.”

'As a young queer person the best I could be was invisible'

Stuart felt detached from the culture of toxic masculinity he saw permeate his home city growing up. Even as a six-year-old he was asked why he was the way was.

“What I had always seen growing up in Glasgow were these big books, that I loved, that were set in industrial Glasgow were always incredibly hyper masculine.

“So for me, as a young queer person growing up, the best I could be was ­invisible or just be unnoticed.”

REBELLING against this silence, Stuart set out the voice of the often unheard ­“feminine spirit” in his writing.

“I wanted to go back and look at ­something that’s well covered, ­well documented in British social ­history, looking at it from two new points of view. One was just the queer man then the ­second was the single, working-class mother who is perhaps the most ­overlooked subset in our society. We never hear from them, we never get to ­record their stories. We don’t spend time, especially when there’s addiction in the house as well.

“I wanted to write an incredibly ­feminine story set in a very masculine world because us as feminine spirits have always been here. We’ve always ­contributed to the city. We just often didn’t get our experiences documented.”

Scotland is famous for its so-called miserabilist tales. Ken Loach’s Sweet ­Sixteen, Peter Mullan’s Neds and even more recently Kevin Bridges’s The Black Dog are all stories that boil down to young men trying to find their way out of poverty.

The National: Ken Loach has been accused of being a miserabilist director in films such as Sweet Sixteen Ken Loach has been accused of being a miserabilist director in films such as Sweet Sixteen

But that word, miserabilism, along with “poverty safari” are accusations that Stuart rejects.

'Miserabilism is a projection from a middle-class on to a working-class story'

To him, it appears these terms are at the least over-analysing and at the worst injecting a privileged world view on to the stories of the less fortunate.

“I don’t accept the term of miserabilism on my work because I think my work is far more nuanced and has much more heart, humour and compassion than that,” he says.

“I think miserabilism is a projection from a middle-class on to a working-class story.

“I think it’s something that says that lives in poverty and lives that are tough tend to be incredibly miserable and it’s a judgment call and I don’t ask to be ­included in that.

“I think what my novels have is that there is so much more resilience and hope and heart and humour than just looking at something that is a poverty ­safari.”

He adds: “When we say that this is miserabilism it’s a subset of literature, whereas if we look at a middle class kids’ upbringing and look at that it would just be considered a piece of literature.”

Despite the geographical distance, Stuart will forever know Glasgow as his home. It’s a place he often comes back to, both in person and in his writing.

“Everything about my life centres on Glasgow,” he says, “I get to come home a lot and I think about Glasgow a lot in my writing.”

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At 46, Stuart has now spent most of his life in the Big Apple. Asked which one is the better city he refuses to answer, laughing at the mere suggestion they can be compared.

He says: “They don’t even have to ­compete because they’re so hugely ­different. New York is a city that can sometimes lack a heart of lack a feeling of belonging.”

However, the author’s magnetism ­towards Glasgow never fails. It will forever remain his lighthouse in the darkness of uncertainty.

“I feel when I make no sense in the world, when I feel lost, I come home to Glasgow because it’s the only place in the world that makes sense.”

Douglas Stuart: Love, Hope and Grit with Alan Yentob airs on BBC One on November 14