With two African writers on the shortlist of this year’s Booker prize, commentators on the continent anticipated the prize to swing to one of them, but it has been awarded to a Scot, Douglas Stuart, for his debut novel, Shuggie Bain.
The two African writers on the shortlist were Tsitsi Dangarembga and Maaza Mengiste. While Dangarembga, a Zimbabwean, was nominated for This Mournable Body, Mengiste was on the shortlist for the The Shadow King.
Writing for BBC earlier in the week, a prominent Nigerian writer, Molara Wood, said the nominations were received with celebration on the African literary scene.
But announcing the winner on Thursday night, chairman of the judging panel, Margaret Busby, said the panel only took an hour to unanimously agree on “Shuggie Bain.”
The book is “challenging, intimate and gripping… anyone who reads it will never feel the same” Busby said.
According to her, “The novel is destined to be a classic” and is “full of such emotional rage, a book that can make you laugh as well as make you cry.
It is dealing with tough subject matter, dealing with characters not having an easy time – some of the things that happen will make you smile but some may not, it’s not one where everyone lives happily ever after.
“It’s not a book that’s a pleasant read, but it’s a hopeful read, challenging, intimate, gripping.”