‘Shuggie Bain,’ Douglas Stuart’s First Novel, Wins 2020 Booker Prize

Douglas Stewart bags The Booker Prize 2020 for his debut novel 'Shuggie Bain'

Scottish author Douglas Stuart won the Booker Prize for fiction on November 19, 2020 with his first novel “Shuggie Bain”. Based on his own life, the book tells the story of growing up in Glasgow, Scotland, in the 1980s with a mother struggling with addiction. The judges remark his novel is a tale of love and alcoholism was destined to be a classic. The 44-year-old Stuart, who wins 50,000 pounds and is only the second Scot to have won the prestigious literary prize. The book, based on his own childhood, tells of a young boy growing up during tough years in Glasgow with a mother who is battling addiction. Stuart’s own mother died of alcoholism when he was 16. Stuart presents a tightly-cut portrait of the working class during the 1980s in Glasgow. But at its heart, it is about a family struggling to survive and children loving damaged parents amidst all the struggle.

“I think one of the greatest things you can do when you’ve been a child who’s suffered trauma and been around addiction, where you have absolutely no control over it, is actually to turn it into art and really sort of examine it up closely”. “I’ve always felt like my life has been two very distinct parts. The man who worked in fashion in New York, but then the boy who grew up in Glasgow. And so in a lot of ways, writing the book was about sort of bringing those two halves back together,”  he said in an interview last month. This year also witnessed the participation of former President of the US Barack Obama as well as former Booker Prize winners: Kazuo Ishiguro, Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo.

In a statement, the chair of this year’s judges, Margaret Busby, said about the novel as heart wrenching. Magaret said, “The heart-wrenching story tells of the unconditional love between Agnes Bain — set on a descent into alcoholism by the tough circumstances life has dealt her — and her youngest son. … Gracefully and powerfully written, this is a novel that has impact because of its many emotional registers and its compassionately characters. The poetry in Douglas Stuart’s descriptions and the precision of his observations stand out: nothing is wasted.”