Let’s cut to the chase. The Booker Prize winner for 2020 has officially been announced, and we should now all congratulate Douglas Stuart on his win. His novel, Shuggie Bain, tells a story — based on his own life — about a turbulent childhood spent in Glasgow, Scotland, in the 1980s under Thatcherism. A story about addiction and violence, written with, to hear this year’s judges explain, such a combination of humor and nuance and detail, they think people will be talking about this novel for “generations.”
Stuart was short-listed along with five other writers: Diane Cook, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Avni Doshi, Maaza Mengiste, and Brandon Taylor for The New Wilderness, This Mournable Body, Burnt Sugar, The Shadow King, and Real Life, respectively. “Because of an accident of timing — it [Shuggie Bain] was released right before the start of pandemic — it might be the best reviewed book you’ve never heard of in 2020, having had other things on your mind,” Matt Schneier wrote in a profile of Stuart earlier this fall. If this applies to you, happy reading.