Stuart wins Booker Prize for 'Shuggie Bain'

Stuart wins Booker Prize for 'Shuggie Bain'”

"Shuggie Bain" is Stuart's first novel.

Actor Paapa Essiedu read from finalist Brandon Taylor's "Real Life" at the virtual 2020 Booker Prize ceremony.

Stuart says Shuggie Bain was about 10 years in the making.

Shortly after the announcement, Stuart expressed gratitude for the award.

He was the only United Kingdom -born author on a US -dominated list of six finalists for the prize, which is open to English-language novels from around the world.

Shuggie Bain, Stuart's autobiographical debut novel, draws on his experiences of growing up gay in impoverished Glasgow in the 1980s while struggling with his mother's alcoholism. Stuart's own mother died of alcoholism when he was 16.

She was in the running for this year's prize alongside Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga for the third novel in her trilogy "This Mournable Body" on a shortlist otherwise dominated by USA authors - Diane Cook for "The New Wilderness", Maaza Mengiste for "The Shadow King" and Brandon Taylor for "Real Life".

Stuart, who works in fashion in the U.S., said: "I always wanted to be a writer, so this is about fulfilling a dream that was furloughed".

Stuart, 44, reported that he was absolutely stunned at his win. He said his victory was a sign that "we are starting to hear and be able to respect diverse voices".

In a video news conference, Margaret Busby, this year's chair of judges, said the vote was unanimous and quick, and she noted that she believed the book is destined to become a classic.

"Shuggie is a work of fiction, but writing the book was incredibly healing for me".

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Booker Prize bosses did however move to quell discontent among prize purists sparked by the selection of Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo as dual winners past year despite clear rules against this.

Lee Child and Sameer Rahim, writer and broadcaster Lemn Sissay and translator Emily Wilson rounded out this year's jury.

Stuart was chosen from a shortlist dominated by USA -based writers from diverse backgrounds. The other contender was "This Mournable Body", by Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga.

He is the second Scot to win in the Prize's history, after James Kelman in 1994.

Busby said nationality played no part in the judges' considerations. I think right now we are polarising as a society and a lot of people are being left behind, and that terrifies me.

The Booker's traditional black-tie dinner ceremony at London's medieval Guildhall has been scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Booker Prize was announced in a socially distanced, live-streamed ceremony from London's Roundhouse, featuring appearances by former United States president Barack Obama and The Duchess of Cornwall, and former Booker Prize winners Kazuo Ishiguro, 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 victor for this year's £50,000 prize.

Stuart was one of four debut novelists among the six shortlisted for the prize.

Paul Beatty became the first American victor when the Booker bowed to pressure and began including authors from outside the Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe in 2013. In the year 2008, this prize was given to Indian writer Arvind Adig. That hasn't happened, yet.

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