Douglas Stuart has won the Booker Prize for Shuggie Bain. This is his debut novel about a boy in 1980s Glasgow trying to support his mother as he struggles with addiction and poverty.
Interestingly, the judges weren’t hesistant in choosing Douglas for the honour. 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.
Shuggie Bain is an autobiographical novel, about the lonely gay son of an alcoholic mother in 1980s Scotland. It was one of four debut books in this year’s shortlist.
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, Shuggie, have been sympathetic to her deterioration. He struggles to help Agnes while suffering huge problems of his own.
Douglas dedicated his book and his prize to his mother, who died of alcoholism when he was 16.
He said that Shuggie was “a love story looking at that unconditional, often tested love that children can have for flawed parents”.
Douglas grew up in Glasgow and lives in New York. He is the second Scot to win the prize, following James Kelman in 1994 for How Late it Was, How Late.
The writer made New York his home to start a career in fashion design. He started writing his book a decade ago.
The ceremony, broadcast from London’s Roundhouse, included contributions from the Duches of Cornwall and former US President Brack 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.
The judges were under strict instructions not to have more than one winner for this year’s £50,000 prize.Under new guidelines, if they could not agree on a winner, a majority vote would be honoured.