Booker Prize 2020: Douglas Stuart wins UK Booker Prize for debut novel Shuggie Bain

Shuggie Bain centers around a boy nicknamed Shuggie, who struggles with being gay and his mother's alcohol addiction. 

Created On: Nov 20, 2020 14:05 ISTModified On: Nov 20, 2020 20:26 IST
UK Booker prize 2020

Booker Prize 2020: British writer Douglas Stuart has won the UK's Booker Prize for his debut novel Shuggie Bain. The autobiographical novel was one of four debut books in this year’s shortlist.

The UK Booker Prize winner was announced at a live-streamed ceremony in London on November 19, 2020 that saw participation by Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall and former US President Barack Obama. 

One of the judges on the judging panel, Margaret Busby said that Shuggie Bain was destined to be a classic. She called it an intimate, gripping and daring read. The novel is about a lonely gay son of an alcoholic mother coming of age in 1980s Glasgow, Scotland. 


Douglas Stuart was the only British author on the US-dominated list of six finalists of Booker Prize 2020. One Indian-origin American author also featured in the list.

Following were the other five shortlisted titles: 

1. Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi (published in India as Girl In White Cotton)

2. The New Wilderness by Diane Cook

3. This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

4. The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

5. Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Among all these authors, Maaza Mengiste and Tsitsi Dangarembga are the only two established authors, rest four are debut novelists. 

Douglas Stuart's Shuggie Bain

Shuggie Bain centers around a boy nicknamed Shuggie, who struggles with being gay and his mother's alcohol addiction. Shuggie is portrayed as precocious and sensitive, making him a target for school bullies. He sometimes skips school to take care of his mother, to check up on her when she is passed out and to make sure she doesn't harm herself. 

Douglas Stuart started writing Shuggie Bain almost a decade back while working as a senior director of design at Banana Republic. Working on Shuggie Bain gave him a way to process the trauma of his own childhood and to pay tribute to his mother, who died when he was 16.

Judges Panel

The UK Booker Prize 2020 judges panel included authors Lee Child, Sameer Rahim, writer Lemn Sissay and translator Emily Wilson. The panel was chaired by editor and literary critic Margaret Busby.

How were the books shortlisted?

The judges' panel read around 162 books, many of them conveying important, sometimes uncannily similar and prescient messages. Jointly, the judges shortlisted six titles for Booker Prize 2020 based on the characters that resonated with them the most. The UK Booker prize is open to all English-language novels from around the world.

UK Booker Prize 2019 winner

The UK Booker Prize 2019 was conferred jointly to Margaret Atwood for The Testaments and Bernardine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other.

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