Douglas Stuart and his book Shuggie Bain.

The 2020 Booker Prize Goes to First-time Scottish Author

Posted by Speakeasy News > Wednesday 25 November 2020 > What's On

Britain's most prestigious literary prize this year was awarded on 19 November to one of four debut novels in the shortlist: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, a story of family love and addiction in recession-hit 1980s Glasgow.

The story is set in the era of Thatcherism and deindustrialisation. For working-class families, times were hard. When her husband leaves, Agnes Bain turns to drink to help her face bringing up three children on her own. As his siblings leave, Shuggie tries to help his mother as he also tries to fit in as a gay teenager in a city of hard men.

These days, Douglas Stuart is a fashion designer in  New York, but his background is very similar to the titular Shuggie's.  "My mother was a wonderful mother," he said. "I grew up in 80s Glasgow but my mother suffered from alcoholism. She was a very proud, hardworking, generous woman - but she was hurt and she was deeply unwell." She died from complications of her addiction when Stuart was a teenager.

Stuart has been writing for years. He has published short stories in The New Yorker and it took him 10 years to write Shuggie Bain. But now he has a second novel already written and a third one started.

The Booker ceremony this year had to be virtual, but the advantage for ordinary readers is that we can glimpse some of the content. Here, actor Stuart Campbell reads a short extract from the winning novel.

This video includes the judges, the author, and fellow New-York-based Scot, actor Alan Cumming, discussing his novel.

You can find the watch party videos for the five other short-listed novels on the Booker site.