Wednesday, 02 December, 2020


UK Writer Douglas Stuart Wins Booker Prize For 'Shuggie Bain' Novel

The author smiling in dark blue shirt against a dark backdrop Booker Prize goes to Scottish author Douglas Stuart for debut novel Shuggie Bain
Hannah Rogers | 21 November, 2020, 23:07

'For all these reasons, this year's Booker Prize is even more important than usual.

The Booker Prizes podcast series will be releasing a victor podcast, featuring an interview with Douglas Stuart, available from Wednesday (November 25).

Scottish-American novelist Douglas Stuart won the Booker Prize for Fiction on Thursday (Nov 19) for his debut novel Shuggie Bain.

The New York Times draws comparisons between the novel and Stuart's own upbringing as the youngest of three children, with a mother struggling with addiction.

He dedicated his book and his prize to his mother, who died of alcoholism when he was 16.

Stuart's novel, which took him almost a decade to write, was rejected by over 30 editors before it was accepted by publishers Picador in the United Kingdom and Grove Atlantic in the US.

Stuart, 44, said he was "absolutely stunned" to win.

Ishiguro, 66, who won the Man Booker in 1989 for The Remains of the Day, said the prize itself was not the final test. He said his victory was a sign that "we are starting to hear and be able to respect diverse voices".

"I wouldn't allow myself to believe I was writing a book, because it was too intimidating", Stuart said.

Last year, the Booker judges made the surprising decision to flout their own rules and award the prize jointly to Margaret Atwood, for "The Testaments", a sequel to her 1985 dystopian classic, "The Handmaid's Tale", and Bernardine Evaristo, for her novel "Girl, Woman, Other".

Though there were four debuts on the Booker shortlist, it's been more than a decade since a debut won.

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

He is the second Scot to win in the Prize's history, after James Kelman in 1994.

"It wasn't something we set out to do", chairwoman of the judging panel and literary critic Margaret Busby said.

"It's challenging, it's intimate, it's gripping, it's daring", she said of the novel. "We were not trying to tick boxes or think what people were going to say about us choosing this and not that".

The ceremony was broadcast from London's Roundhouse.

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

In a video message, Obama praised the power of fiction "to put ourselves in someone else's shoes, understand their struggles, and imagine new ways to tackle complex problems and effect change".

The Booker Prizes is a literature award that marks "the finest in fiction", while also "highlighting great books to readers and transforming authors' careers".

The novel, inspired by Stuart's upbringing in 1980s Glasgow, Scotland, is shortlisted for the Booker Prize and has received wide acclaim for its raw, gritty portrayal of addiction and growing up in poverty.

Founded in 1969, the prize is open to English-language authors of any nationality, but until 2014 only British, Irish and Commonwealth writers were eligible.

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