Booker Prize Winner Is 'Shuggie Bain' By Douglas Stuart

Lula Sharp
November 21, 2020

New York-based Scottish author Douglas Stuart has been announced as the victor of the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction, with his debut novel Shuggie Bain. Last year's prize caused a furore when not one but two winners, Bernardine Evaristo and Margaret Atwood, were announced, the third time in history that the award was shared. The Novel goes back to 1980 at Glasgow, where a young boy is trying to support his mother as she struggles with addiction and poverty.

Header Image sourced from Booker Prize website. Instead, he trained in textiles and upon graduating from the Royal College of Art in London, he moved to NY and ended up designing knitwear for big American brands.

He described the book as a "love story" looking at the kind of "unconditional, often-tested love" that children can have for flawed parents.

Stuart credits the latter's book for changing his life because it was the first time he saw "my people, my dialect, on the page".

Stuart said in an interview for The Booker Prize website that the 1994 Booker victor "How Late It Was, How Late" by James Kelman changed his life because it was one of the first times he had seen his people and dialect on the page. "He said that he had dedicated this book to his mother".

"Working-class Scotland was hard for them", Stuart said.

The victor was announced Thursday at a livestreamed ceremony in London that included remote appearances by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and former U.S. President Barack Obama.

Stuart started writing in his spare time around a decade ago, with his short stories and essays appearing in The New Yorker and LitHub.

He had initially wanted to study English and become a writer, "but in the world of my childhood, boys didn't do such things" he previously wrote in The Guardian.

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Obama addressed the ceremony via a pre-recorded video message tonight.

The New Wilderness by Diane Cook, Real Life by Brandon Taylor and Tsitsi Dangarembga's This Mournable Body were also nominated.

Stuart was one of four debut novelists on this year's Booker shortlist.

As part of The Booker Prize's continuing partnership with Doncaster Creates dynamic arts programme, there will be a virtual Open Mic night on Thursday (November 26) hosted by 2020 Booker judge, writer and broadcaster Lemn Sissay and 2017 shortlisted author Fiona Mozley; both will read passages from their work alongside Doncaster writers.

'And as long as we can read, we can travel, we can escape, we can explore, we can laugh, we can cry and we can grapple with life's mysteries.

Booker Prize bosses did however move to quell discontent among prize purists sparked by the selection of Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo as dual winners previous year despite clear rules against this.

Gaby Wood, the literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation, said the judges were under strict instructions not to have more than one victor for this year's £50,000 prize.

Paul Beatty became the first American victor when the Booker bowed to pressure and began including authors from outside the Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe in 2013.

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