Debut novel ‘Shuggie Bain’ wins 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction

Congratulations to Douglas Stuart on winning the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction with his debut novel Shuggie Bain. He receives the £50,000 prize, a trophy, a designer-bound edition of his book and a further £2,500 for being shortlisted.

Shuggie Bain is based on Stuart’s childhood, growing up in Thatcher’s Glasgow of the 1980s, with a mother who is battling addiction – she died of alcoholism when he was 16. He began writing in his spare time a decade ago.

Margaret Busby, 2020 chair of judges, said: ‘Shuggie Bain is destined to be a classic — a moving, immersive and nuanced portrait of a tight-knit social world, its people and its values. The heart-wrenching story tells of the unconditional love between Agnes Bain — set on a descent into alcoholism by the tough circumstances life has dealt her — and her youngest son. Shuggie struggles with responsibilities beyond his years to save his mother from herself, at the same time as dealing with burgeoning feelings and questions about his own otherness. Gracefully and powerfully written, this is a novel that has impact because of its many emotional registers and its compassionately realised characters. The poetry in Douglas Stuart’s descriptions and the precision of his observations stand out: nothing is wasted.’

Shuggie Bain is published by Grove Press.

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Back the bookshops now they are open

As a former bookseller I’m delighted that some bookshops have been able to re-open despite the massive constraints they find themselves under. Heaven knows how they are going to manage with social distancing, hand sanitisers, masks and having to quarantine books every time they are touched. Like many browsers I spend time leafing through books, putting them back, sorting through shelves and, in quite a few cases, coming away having not made a decision – and NO it isn’t so I can find it cheaper on line!

In a Guardian article on Sunday 14 June (‘Now wash your hands: Ripon’s indie shops brace for the big reopening’), Donna Ferguson featured an Indie bookshop in the town coincidentally called The Ripon Bookshop. Owner Gill Edwards has been keeping going offering free deliveries of books to local customers and hosting book club meetings via Zoom. Obviously sales are down, but she’s confident they can still make a huge difference locally, even though they are fighting the big online sellers.

So support the open bookshops – they deserve it.

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LBF 2020 Cancelled!

After monitoring the situation carefully, Reed Exhibitions announced today that The London Book Fair 2020, scheduled to take place next week, has been cancelled following the escalation of COVID-19 Coronavirus. By today several of the large exhibitors including Hachette, HarperCollins, PanMac, Penguin and Amazon had already pulled out of the show. Reed’s press statement reads:

‘The effects, actual and projected, of Coronavirus are becoming evident across all aspects of our lives here in the UK and across the world, with many of our participants facing travel restrictions. We have been following UK government guidelines and working with the rolling advice from the public health authorities and other organisations, and so it is with reluctance that we have taken the decision not to go ahead with this year’s event.

We recognise that business has to continue. With this in mind, we will of course support and collaborate with exhibitors and visitors to keep our world moving during this difficult period. We thank all those from the UK and a multitude of other countries who have prepared over the last year to deliver what promised to be a wonderful book fair showcasing, as ever, the exciting best of the global book industry. The London Book Fair will return, better than ever, in 2021.’

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