03 November 2021

Douglas Stuart reflects on how Booker Prize win has ‘transformed’ his life

03 November 2021

Douglas Stuart has said that winning the Booker Prize last year “transformed” his life.

The Scottish author, who won the prize in 2020 with Shuggie Bain, made the comment during an interview with the Duchess of Cornwall that was broadcast during the ceremony for this year’s award.

Shuggie Bain, which tells the story of a young boy growing up in poverty in Glasgow in the 1980s, was Stuart’s debut novel.

Douglas Stuart (2020 Booker Prize/Clive Smith) (PA Media)

Speaking about his win, the author said: “It’s utterly transformed my life, from winning the Booker to being here with yourself and being in the beautiful Clarence House.

“I couldn’t have imagined any of it.”

Stuart said he did not tell anyone when he began writing Shuggie Bain.

“I was trying to write it because I wanted it to be an incredibly personal project and I was thinking very much about the Glasgow I grew up in and my own mother and my own family,” he said.

He added: “Oftentimes mother stories and young queer men in very masculine places are often invisible and so Shuggie for me became a very personal document in that way, to say we were always here, we are also on this landscape.”

The Duchess of Cornwall (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)

During the interview, he also told Camilla that he “couldn’t even tell you how important the library was in my childhood”.

“It was just a very safe space,” he added.

“It was a tranquil space and it was a place you could go to sort of shut out the world.

“Libraries are crucial because children need an awful lot of peace in their environment to be able to focus on a book but also peace within themselves and libraries are one of the few places that will allow them to have those moments of respite or just to shut out the world and enjoy a book.”

This year’s prize has gone to Damon Galgut’s novel The Promise.

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