Booker Prize 2020: Douglas Stuart's novel Shuggie Bain wins
Published on 20th November 2020
Douglas Stuart has won the Booker Prize for Shuggie Bain, his debut novel about a boy in 1980s Glasgow trying to support his mother as she struggles with addiction and poverty. Chair of judges Margaret Busby said the judges' decision was unanimous and they only "took an hour to decide". The book is "challenging, intimate and gripping... anyone who reads it will never feel the same" she said.
Stuart, 44, said he was "absolutely stunned" to win. He dedicated his book and his prize to his mother, who died of alcoholism when he was 16. The novel follows the life of Agnes Bain, who is descending into despair and struggling with alcohol after the breakdown of her marriage.
All but one of her children have been driven away by her deterioration, and that child, Shuggie, struggles to help Agnes while suffering huge personal problems of his own. Stuart, who grew up in Glasgow and lives in New York, is the second Scot to win the prize, following James Kelman in 1994 for How Late it Was, How Late. Stuart has said the book changed his life because it was one of the first times he had seen his people and dialect on the page.
The ceremony, broadcast from London's Roundhouse, included contributions from the Duchess of Cornwall and former US President Barack Obama. Sir Kazuo Ishiguro, who won the 1989 Booker for The Remains of the Day, was also part of the socially distanced proceedings, along with last year's joint winners Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo.
Gaby Wood, the literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation, said the judges were under strict instructions not to have more than one winner for this year's £50,000 prize.
The other nominated novels were:
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