The Booker Prize was awarded to a Scottish writer for his debut novel

Scottish writer Douglas Stuart has won the 2020 Booker Prize for literature with his debut novel Shuggie Bain. The jury’s decision was announced on Thursday evening at the award ceremony in London of one of the most prestigious awards in the field of literature in English.

Based on the writer’s childhood memories, the novel tells the story of a child who grows up in a low-income family in 1980s Glasgow, a city with high unemployment and drug addiction. The hero’s mother, Agnes, struggles with an addiction to alcohol, and eventually, all her children leave their home. With Agnes, only son Shuggie remains, a different boy from his peers who has a secret from the rest of the world.

The writer’s own mother died of alcoholism when he was 16, and the book is dedicated to her. According to the jury, this “heartbreaking story” is “a desperately sad but almost hopeful analysis of family and the destructive power of desire.”

About the author

Stewart, 44, became just the second Scot in history to be awarded the Booker Prize. The last time this was done by James Kelman, who won in 1994 with the novel “How late it was, how late.” As Stuart previously admitted, the work of Kelman, who, like himself, is from Glasgow, changed his life.

After graduating from the Royal College of art, Stuart moved to New York, where he worked in fashion design, including such well-known companies as Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Gap. About a decade ago, he began trying to write, and his work began to appear in the New Yorker weekly and on the literary resource LitHub. According to the writer, who, in addition to the British, has American citizenship, he had to go around about 30 publishing houses before his work was taken to publish.

Portrait of the social world

The Chairman of the jury, literary critic, and former publisher Margaret Busby does not doubt that Stuart’s work will become a classic in time. “Shuggie Bain is destined to become a classic — a touching, exciting and detailed portrait of a cohesive social world, its people and values,” she said at a press conference. – Elegantly and powerfully written, this novel greatly impacts the many emotional registers and characters presented with great compassion. The poetry in Douglas Stuart’s descriptions and the accuracy of his observations stand out: nothing is wasted.”

The name of the award winner was chosen from a shortlist that previously included six writers. In addition to Stuart, Diane Cook with The New Wilderness, Avni Doshi (Burnt Sugar), Brandon Taylor (Real Life), Maaza Mengiste (Ethiopia and the United States) with the Shadow King and Dangarembga from Zimbabwe (This Mournable Body) made their way to the final.

About the ceremony

The winner of the award was announced at a ceremony held at the Roundhouse concert hall in London. It gathered guests both in person and in the remote way that has become so familiar this year. Among others, former US President Barack Obama and the heir’s wife to the British throne, Prince Charles of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, delivered welcoming messages via video link.

Canadian writer Margaret Atwood and Briton Bernardine Evaristo, who shared the award last year, also performed at the ceremony.

About the award

The books that made it to the final were selected from 162 works published in the UK or Ireland since October 1, 2019. The award winner received a prize of 50 thousand pounds (66 thousand dollars) plus 2.5 thousand pounds (3.3 thousand dollars) for getting on the shortlist. However, from a financial point of view, it is more important for the winner of the award that his book’s sales usually soar.

The Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious literary awards in the world, was established in 1968. It was first awarded in 1969. Until 2013, the Booker Prize was awarded to an author living in a Commonwealth country, Ireland or Zimbabwe. However, the jury allowed writers from other countries of the world to apply for the award for a work written in English and published in the United Kingdom.

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