Douglas Stuart on Writing in Secret

November 20, 2020 | 1 book mentioned

At The Guardian, this year’s six Booker Prize finalists describe the inspiration behind their books. Yesterday, the 2020 Prize was awarded to Shuggie Bain author Douglas Stuart, who explains that writing is both a source of comfort and a rejection of his childhood. “I grew up to be a textile designer. I had wanted to study English and to become a writer, but in the world of my childhood, boys didn’t do such things. Studying English was middle-class; even the word English was jarring and dangerous in the East End of Glasgow,” he says. “Because of my upbringing I felt so much like an impostor that I wrote in secret, and told no one (other than my husband)…Men from the west coast of Scotland are not known for revealing their tenderer feelings. Fiction allows me to make sense of things I am unable to express in other ways. It took 10 years to write the novel because I felt such comfort in the world I was creating.” Shuggie Bain was featured on our February Most Anticipated list alongside another shortlisted book: Brandon Taylor’s Real Life.

is always reading. She works for Brooklyn Public Library and blogs about books at

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