Scottish Writer Douglas Stuart Wins Booker For His Debut Novel

This wonderful news comes to us from London.

Douglas Stuart, 44, won the Booker Prize for fiction Thursday for ‘Shuggie Bain’, a novel about a boy’s turbulent coming of age in hardscrabble 1980s Glasgow that was turned down by 32 publishers before being picked up. He won the prestigious award worth 50,000 pounds for his first published novel. The finalists’ list included 7 people, 6 of whom were U.S.-dominated and he was the only U.K.-born author.

Stuart is a former fashion designer based in New York who wrote his own experiences in the novel. In his novel, Stuart showed the relationship of Shuggie with his alcoholic mother. He dedicated this story to his own mother who died when he was only 16. He said, “My mother is in every page of this book, and without her I wouldn’t be here and my work wouldn’t be here.” Stuart’s work was being compared to Charles Dickens writings but he said that his work was repeatedly rejected before being published by Grove Atlantic in the U.S. and Picador in the U.K.

Stuart said that it was being difficult for the writers to publish the book of a working-class Scotland. After his victory, he said, “We are starting to hear and be able to respect diverse voices.” The book was published by Margaret Busby who chaired the judging panel. She praised the novel and said that the novel was intimate and gripping, challenging but hopeful in its exploration of Shuggie’s burgeoning sexuality and the complex but loving relationship between mother and son. She further said, “It’s hard to come away from that book without thinking ‘This is going to be a classic.’”

Stuart was selected from a shortlist dominated by U.S.-based writers from diverse backgrounds. Though the Booker Prize has been won by many British writers, Stuart is the first Scottish writer victor since James Kelman took the 1994 prize with ‘How Late It Was, How Late’. This book was an inspiration for Stuart. However, Busby said that nationality played no role in the judges’ considerations. She said, “We were rewarding the book. We were not trying to tick boxes or think what people were going to say about us choosing this and not that.”

The traditional black-tie dinner ceremony at London’s medieval Guildhall could not take place because of the pandemic. So, the winner announcement was broadcast online and on the radio from London’s Roundhouse arts venue, with virtual appearances by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and former U.S. President Barack Obama. In a video message, Obama said, “to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, understand their struggles, and imagine new ways to tackle complex problems and effect change.”

This story of Stuart inspires us that we should not lose hope and try again and again till we succeed.

Image Source: Independent

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