Douglas Stuart (writer)
Douglas Stuart in 2020
|Born||1976 (age 44–45)|
Sighthill, Glasgow, Scotland
|Shuggie Bain (2020)|
|Awards||2020 Booker Prize|
Stuart was born in Sighthill, a housing estate in Glasgow, Scotland. He was the youngest of three siblings. His father left him and his family when he was young, and he was raised by a single mother battling alcoholism and addiction. His mother died from alcoholism-related health issues when he was 16. Subsequently, when he would go on to write his debut Booker Prize-winning novel, Shuggie Bain, the book would be inspired by his struggles, his mother's struggles as she battled alcoholism and his relation with his mother. Speaking about his mother, he says: "My mother died very quietly of addiction one day." After his mother's death, he lived with his older brother before moving into a boarding house when he was 17.
Writing on Lithub about working-class living in the late 1970s and 1980s, Stuart notes that he grew up in a house without books and surrounded by poverty. This was the time when Thatcher-era economic policies had "decimated the working man," moving industry away from the west coast of Scotland, leaving behind mass unemployment, alcoholism, and drug abuse.
He received a bachelor's degree from the Scottish College of Textiles and a master's degree from the Royal College of Art in London. He had no formal education in literature and notes that while he wanted to study English literature in college, he was discouraged from choosing the subject by a teacher who mentioned that it would "not suit someone from his background," resulting in him subsequently studying textiles instead.
Stuart moved to New York City at the age of 24 to begin a career in fashion design. He worked for many brands, including Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Banana Republic and Jack Spade, for more than 20 years. Stuart balanced his writing with his design job. It is noted that he started writing his first novel when he was balancing 12-hour shifts as a senior director of design at Banana Republic.
His first novel, Shuggie Bain, won the 2020 Booker Prize, chosen by a judging panel comprising Margaret Busby (chair), Lee Child, Sameer Rahim, Lemn Sissay, and Emily Wilson. Stuart is the second Scottish author to win the Booker Prize in its 51-year history, after it was awarded in 1994 to James Kelman for How Late It Was, How Late, which book Stuart has credited with changing his life, since it was "one of the first times he had seen his people and dialect on the page". Stuart said: "When James won in the mid-90s, Scottish voices were seen as disruptive and outside the norm."
Shuggie Bain was also longlisted for the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, shortlisted for the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and was a finalist for both the 2020 Kirkus Prize and the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. However, when Stuart wrote the novel, responses from publishers were not as encouraging, with the book being rejected by 32 US publishing companies (as well as a dozen in the UK), before it was finally sold to American independent publisher Grove Atlantic, who published it in hardcover on 11 February 2020. Shuggie Bain was later published in the United Kingdom by the Picador imprint of Pan Macmillan.
The novel received generally favourable review coverage once it was published, including in The Observer, The New York Times, The Scotsman, the TLS, The Hindu, and elsewhere. The book was praised for its authentic portrayal of post-industrial working-class Glasgow of the 1980s and early 1990s, and also for his capture of the "wry, indefatigable Glaswegian voice in all its various shades of wit, anger and hope." Speaking at the Booker Prize award ceremony, Margaret Busby, chair of the panel, noted that the book was destined to be a classic, and went on to describe the work as a "moving, immersive and nuanced portrait of a tight-knit social world, its people and its values."
In November 2020, Stuart revealed that he had finished his second novel, Loch Awe, also set in mid-1990s Glasgow. The book is a love story between two young men, set against the backdrop of post-industrial Glasgow, with its territorial gangs, and divisions across sectarian lines. In his words, the book is about "toxic masculinity" and the violence that can stem from pressures on working-class boys to "man-up".
In a conversation with 2019 Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo on 23 November, livestreamed as a Southbank Centre event, Stuart said: "One of my biggest regrets I think is that growing up so poor I almost had to elevate myself to the middle class to turn around to tell a working-class story." Discussing the "middle-class" publishers' rejections he had received for Shuggie Bain, he told Evaristo: "Everyone was writing these really gorgeous letters. They were saying 'Oh my god this will win all of the awards and it's such an amazing book and I have never read anything like that, but I have no idea how to market it'."
- Millen, Robbie (15 September 2020). "Why Douglas Stuart's Shuggie Bain deserves to win the Booker prize". The Times. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
- Alter, Alexandra (23 October 2020). "How 'Shuggie Bain' Became This Year's Breakout Debut". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- Clark, Alex (22 November 2020). "Shuggie Bain's tale tells us that the Booker prize has matured". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- E.C. (20 November 2020). "Douglas Stuart's "Shuggie Bain" wins the Booker Prize". The Economist (Prospero blog). ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- Stuart, Douglas (10 February 2020). "Poverty, Anxiety, and Gender in Scottish Working-Class Literature". Literary Hub. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- Alter, Alexandra (23 October 2020). "How 'Shuggie Bain' Became This Year's Breakout Debut". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
- Alter, Alexandra (19 November 2020). "Douglas Stuart Wins Booker Prize for 'Shuggie Bain'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- "Douglas Stuart | The Booker Prizes". thebookerprizes.com. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- Flood, Alison (19 November 2020). "Douglas Stuart wins Booker prize for debut Shuggie Bain". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
- Shuggie Bain, The Booker Prizes website.
- Chilton, Martin (26 November 2020). "Booker prize winner Douglas Stuart: 'Homophobia makes you think there's something broken'". The Independent. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
- Duffy, Judith (15 November 2020). "Douglas Stuart's Shuggie Bain could be second Scottish book to win Booker prize". The National. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
- Doyle, Martin (19 November 2020). "Douglas Stuart wins 2020 Booker Prize for Shuggie Bain". The Irish Times.
- "Douglas Stuart wins Booker Prize". BookBrunch. 20 November 2020. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
- "Interview with longlisted author Douglas Stuart". The Booker Prizes. 11 August 2020. Retrieved 25 November 2020.
- "Longlist for 2021 Carnegie Medals Announced". American Libraries. 26 October 2020. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- "2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize Longlist". Publishers Weekly. 22 July 2020. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- Schaub, Michael (9 September 2020). "Kirkus Prize Finalists Are Announced". Kirkus. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- Kircher, Madison Malone (6 October 2020). "The National Book Awards Finalists Hath Arrived". Vulture.com. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- "National Book Awards 2020 shortlists announced". Books+Publishing. 7 October 2020. Retrieved 7 October 2020.
- "The Londoner: Booker winners Douglas Stuart and Bernadine Evaristo say publishers are too middle-class". Evening Standard. 24 November 2020.
- Macaskill, Mark (29 November 2020). "Scottish Booker prize winner Shuggie Bain was rejected by 44 publishers". The Times.
- "Shuggie Bain". Grove Atlantic. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- "Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart". Pan Macmillan. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- Preston, Alex (9 August 2020). "Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart review – lithe, revelatory debut". The Observer.
- Cohen, Leah Hager (11 February 2020). "In 1980s Glasgow, a World of Pain Made Bearable by Love". The New York Times.
- Massie, Allan (21 August 2020). "Book review: Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart". The Scotsman.
- Lichtig, Toby (11 September 2020). "Glasgow kiss: A love letter to a troubled city in Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart". TLS.
- Dasgupta, Shougat (31 October 2020). "A terrible beauty: Review of 'Shuggie Bain' and 'Real Life'". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- Ferguson, Brian (19 November 2020). "Booker Prize: Glasgow author Douglas Stuart wins with debut novel Shuggie Bain". The Scotsman. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
- "Shuggie Bain". Books from Scotland. 13 August 2020. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- Carpenter, Caroline (15 September 2020). "Douglas Stuart | 'Representation of the working-class is essential for diversity in literature'". The Bookseller. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
- Allfree, Claire (15 September 2020). "The Booker Prize has abandoned Britain". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 October 2020.