'Shuggie Bain' triumphs at 2020 Booker Prize

Author Douglas Stuart wins prize for his novel based on poverty and addiction

Douglas Stuart. Photo by Clive Smith

Douglas Stuart's Shuggie Bain was named winner of the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction at a star-studded "ceremony without walls" from London's Roundhouse.

The Scot had stiff competition for the prestigious award, with Dubai-based Avni Doshi also on the shortlist for her novel Burnt Sugar.

The entrants had been kept waiting for longer than customary after being shortlisted with the ceremony originally due to take place in May. Coronavirus put paid to that but for Mr Stuart, the wait will have only served to sweeten this moment.

And unlike last year, when the prize was shared between Margaret Atwood and Bernadine Evaristo, the Scottish scribbler can bask in his acclaim without the shadow of another diluting the moment.

Although given his self-effacing celebratory tweets, he probably wouldn't have minded it if the prize had been divvied up.

Shuggie Bain is Mr Stuart's first novel and is a gritty coming of age tale set in 1980s Glasgow.

The novel's working class roots were swift to be heralded on social media following news of its triumph.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took to Twitter to call Mr Stuart "such a worthy winner" and to commend him for producing a "raw, searing and beautifully tender novel".

The Booker Prize Twitter account announced the news and tweeted a video of the prize's stellar roll call of judges outlining how they had reached their verdict.

The award holds extra poignancy for Mr Stuart, who said in an interview prior to the announcement that the 1994 Booker winner How Late It Was, How Late by fellow Scot James Kelman changed his life because it was one of the first times he had seen his people and dialect on the page.

Among the illustrious names to contribute to the ceremony was the Duchess of Cornwall, whose pre-recorded video message extolled the escapist virtues of reading.

Mr Stuart is currently finishing his second novel, Loch Awe, also set in Glasgow.

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