Booker Prize 2020: Douglas Stuart wins prize for debut book ‘Shuggie Bain’

Douglas Stuart. Image Source: Martyn Pickersgill

44-year-old Scottish-American author Douglas Stuart won the 2020 Booker Prize for his debut book Shuggie Bain, a novel that documents the life of a boy in Glasgow in the 1980s who is trying to support his mother as she battles poverty and addiction. Also, it follows the life of Agnes Bain, the mother, who is spiraled into despondency and despair after an unsuccessful marriage. While all her other children abandon her, Shuggie makes all efforts to help his mother despite facing huge personal problems himself.

Stuart dedicated this book to his mother, who passed away due to alcoholism when he was just 16.

Stuart became the second Scottish author to win the prestigious prize after James Kelman won the prestigious honour in 1994 with ‘How Late It Was, How Late.’

Born and raised in Glasgow, Stuart graduated from the Royal College of Art in London, after which he moved to New York City, where he began a career in fashion design. He had been working on this book for 10 years, and admitted that the book was turned down 32 times before it was finally published by publishers Grove Atlantic in the United States and Picador in the United Kingdom.

The other finalists for the award were:

The chair of judges for the prize, Margaret Busby said the decision of the judges was unanimous and they took merely an hour to decide the winner.

The novel is “destined to be a classic” and is “full of such emotional rage, a book that can make you laugh as well as make you cry”, Busby said.

“It’s dealing with tough subject matter, with characters not having an easy time – some of the things that happen will make you smile but it’s not one where everyone lives happily ever after.

“It’s not a pleasant read, but it’s a hopeful read, challenging, intimate, gripping.”

The other judges to complete the panel were Lee Child, Sameer Rahim, Emily Wilson, and Lemn Sissay.

Have you read the book yet? If you have, let us know what you felt about it in the comments section below.

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