Douglas Stuart’s ‘Shuggie Bain’ wins 2020 Booker Prize

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Booker Prize

Author Douglas Stuart received the Booker Prize for ‘Shuggie Bain’, which was originally rejected by 32 publishers.

‘Shuggie Bain’ a tale about a boy’s tumultuous growing up in poverty stricken 1980s Glasgow written by Scottish author Douglas Stuart, that was rejected by 32 publishers before being picked up, received the Booker Award for fiction on Thursday.

For his first published book, the culmination of a decade of effort, Stuart, 44, received the coveted 50,000 pound ($66,000) prize. He was the only novelist from the UK in the US dominated roster of six award candidates, which contains all the English language novels globally.

“It’s hard to come away from that book without thinking ‘This is going to be a classic,’” said Publisher and editor Margaret Busby, who chaired the judging panel of the Booker Prize

Stuart’s Early Life

Stuart is a retired fashion designer based in New York. He built on the tale of young Shuggie and his bond with his drunken mum, Agnes, from his own experience of growing up gay in economically devastated thatcher-era Glasgow. The novel was devoted by Stuart to his own mum, who died when he aged 16.

The sweeping, dynamic characters in this novel and the unwavering look at hardship were often compared to Charles Dickens’ work, but Stuart said that it was consistently rejected before being published in the US by Grove Atlantic and in the UK by Picador.

About the Booker Prize and the Panel

Margaret Busby, journalist, literary critic and former publisher, chaired the 2020 Booker Prize judging panel, consisting of author Lee Child; author and critic Sameer Rahim; writer and presenter Lemn Sissay; and classicist and translator Emily Wilson. 

Stuart was drawn from a shortlist composed of authors included Maaza Mengiste’s “The Shadow King”; the dystopian tale “The New Wilderness” by Diane Cook; the India-set mother-daughter story “Burnt Sugar” by Avni Doshi; and the college narrative “Real Life” by Brandon Taylor, which discusses academic bigotry and homophobia and “This Mournable Body” by the Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga.

First presented in 1969, the Booker Prize for Fiction is available to authors of any ethnicity, written in English, and published in the United Kingdom or Ireland. 

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