Tuesday, 24 November, 2020

Scottish author Douglas Stuart wins Booker Prize for 'Shuggie Bain'

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Adrian Cunningham | 21 November, 2020, 23:06

British author Douglas Stuart was announced as the victor of The 2020 Booker Prize for his novel "Shuggie Bain".

Before announcing the victor, jury chair Margaret Busby spoke about the diversity of the finalists and their stories, which had received much attention in the run-up to the award.

The Booker Prize's shortened video ceremony followed another big night in the literary world, the National Book Awards, held Wednesday night, which was entirely virtual.

"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.

This year's shortlist has been hailed as the most diverse in the prize's history, dominated as it is by writers of colour, women and debut novelists.

Stuart, who works in fashion in the U.S., said: "I always wanted to be a writer, so this is about fulfilling a dream that was furloughed".

Stuart, 44, told the BBC he was "absolutely stunned" to win. He said he has carried this loss, love, and pain with him from childhood and let it influence his writing of the novel.

The book is "challenging, intimate and gripping. anyone who reads it will never feel the same" she said.

Last year, the Booker Prize 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".

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Margaret Busby was joined on the 2020 judging panel by Lee Child, author; Sameer Rahim, author and critic; Lemn Sissay, writer and broadcaster; and Emily Wilson, classicist and translator.

He was chosen as victor from the most diverse shortlist in the prize's five-decade history.

Dubai-based Indian-origin writer Doshi, who was shortlisted among the final six authors for her debut novel "Burnt Sugar", lost out on the top prize.

Also on the list is Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga's "This Mournable Body", which links the breakdown of its central character and turmoil in post-colonial Zimbabwe.

Stuart is the second Scottish writer to win the award after James Kelman scooped the 1994 prize for How Late It Was, How Late. In contrast, the United Kingdom ceremony maintained some live elements, taking over the Roundhouse performance venue in London, which for the hour-long event was populated only by the host, British journalist John Wilson; previous victor Bernardine Evaristo; judges chair Margaret Busby and the four-piece Chineke!

"We were not trying to tick boxes or think what people were going to say about us choosing this and not that". I think right now we are polarising as a society and a lot of people are being left behind, and that terrifies me.

The coronavirus pandemic scuttled the Booker's traditional black-tie dinner ceremony at London's medieval Guildhall.

The Booker Prize is the UK's leading literary award and has been awarded since 1969 to the best original fiction written in the English language and published in the UK. Since 2013, authors from any nationality have been eligible.