African Authors Miss Out As Scottish-American Douglas Stuart Wins Booker Prize

Two African authors, Tsitsi Dangarembga and Maaza Mengiste, who were finalists for the Booker Prize 2020 have expressed optimism after missing out on the prize.

The Booker Prize, the UK’s most prestigious literary award, is open to any novel written in English by an author of any nationality. And this year’s Prize was picked up by Scottish-American Douglas Stuart for his debut novel, Shuggie Bain.

Award-winning Zimbabwean author, Dangarembga, and her counterpart, Ethiopia’s Mengiste, are optimistic despite missing out on the £50,000 ($66,000) cash prize, promising to keep on writing.

Dangarembga was shortlisted for her latest book, This Mournable Body, while Mengiste was shortlisted for her novel, The Shadow King.

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Stuart, 44, won the Booker Prize with his debut novel “Shuggie Bain” which focuses on love and alcoholism, and set in Glasgow in 1980s.

The book, based on his own childhood, tells of a young boy growing up during tough years in Glasgow with a mother who is battling addiction. Stuart’s own mother died of alcoholism when he was 16.

“I think I’ve been clear that my mother is in every page of this book and without her I wouldn’t be here and my work wouldn’t be here,” he said.

“My mother unfortunately suffered with addiction and didn’t survive that addiction,” he told the award ceremony, which had to be mostly held remotely because of a lockdown in England to stop the spread of COVID-19.

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“And so for 30 years I’ve carried an awful lot of sort of loss and love and pain, and I wanted really just to tell the story of what it was like to grow up queer in Glasgow, to grow up with a parent who you love but you couldn’t save.”

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