Four debutants among finalists for Britainss Booker Prize

Brenda Watkins
November 21, 2020

Douglas Stuart, New York based- Scottish writer, has won the 2020 Booker Prize. 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.

"Shuggie Bain" unfolds in 1980s Glasgow and centres on a boy nicknamed Shuggie, who is struggling with being gay and his mother's addiction.

In its Twitter account, The Booker Prize shared a video of judges sharing their opinions on the book.

Shuggie Bain, which is based on Stuart's own childhood, is set in Glasgow in the 1980s and tells the story of a young boy growing up with a mother who is battling addiction.

A Scot by birth, Stuart was born in 1976 and moved to NY at the age of 24.

© Photograph: Sophia Evans/The Observer Douglas Stuart's Shuggie Bain was the bestselling novel on the Booker shortlist.

The writer, 44, is the second-ever Scot to win the £50,000 award after James Kelman scooped the prize for How Late It Was, How Late in 1994.

"I am absolutely stunned", said a tearful Douglas Stuart, who, like the other finalists, was logged on to the online ceremony in London from his home in NY.

During a news conference, Booker representatives said "Shuggie Bain" had prevailed because of the strength of the narrative and the prose.

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The other finalists - all first-time novelists - included Avni Doshi's Burnt Sugar, Maaza Mengiste's The Shadow King; Diane Cook's The New Wilderness; Tsitsi Dangarembga's This Mournable Body; and Brandon Taylor's Real Life.

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.

Shortly after the announcement, Stuart expressed gratitude for the award.

"I've always turned to writing to make sense of our world", said Obama, "both as a young man trying to navigate different parts of my life and as an elected official trying to bridge our divides and find a way for all of us to move forward". But it will be an immensely popular one, for readers have already taken Shuggie Bain to heart: it was the bestselling novel on this year's shortlist, and the favourite to win.

Stuart's book won from a shortlist that was notable for having four debut novels, and no "big names".

"Reading attractive works of fiction late at night, by Booker Prize-listed authors like Marilynne Robinson, Colson Whitehead, Bernardine Evaristo and so many others, offered me a brief respite from the daily challenges of the presidency".

'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. They included thriller writer Lee Child, poet Lemn Sissay, classicist and translator Emily Wilson, and British author and critic Sameer Rahim.

He told the Booker Prize in an interview on their website that How Late It Was, How Late was one of the first time he had seen people like him and who spoke like him represented in literature.

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