Some Thoughts on the Booker Prize

Some things irk me possibly more than they should. This is one of those things.

Today’s Times editorial states: “Douglas Stuart’s Booker Prize win (for the novel “Shuggie Bain”) is a shot in the arm for the Scottish novel, a genre that has been through a fallow period. Neither devolution nor the independence debate have inspired great works, so a new writer is worth celebrating”.

So a constitutional debate has, apparently, been detrimental to the emergence of The Great Scottish Novel. The inference being that constitutional navel gazing needs to end and continued subjugation to London rule remain if new talent is to emerge.

And yet

During the excellent Saturday Times Interview, the author states his clear support for Scottish self-determination

So: a guy who wholeheartedly supports the normality of Scotland’s independence, something that (and indeed devolution) is, according to the leader writer, a barrier to literary greatness, has in fact this week won the Booker Prize. In the age of devolution. And in the midst of an independence debate. This guy must be the greatest writer to ever walk the earth to win the literary equivalent of the World Cup in such an unpropitious environment.

Two things.

Firstly, maybe the leader writer and the guy doing the interview should have got their story straight.

Secondly, my lifelong support of Scotland’s re-assertion of its sovereignty has been in no wee part driven by the writings of, among others, William McIlvanney, Ian Bell and AA Gill. All now departed, but all hugely influential, talented voices throughout the Scottish Independence movement’s slow but inevitable and momentous journey towards its rightful place amongst our fellow independent nations. The devolution / independence era hardly held them back. If anything, it lit a fire that nonsense editorials like this won’t come close to extinguishing.

It’s a great interview, by the way. And I’ll pretend to be surprised when my mother buys me the book for Christmas.

Stay safe everybody. I’ll meet you further on up the road.

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2 replies »

  1. Excellent, incisive and accurate response to the interview of this year’s Booker Prizewinner, Douglas Stuart, for his debut novel “Shuggie Bain”. Irked me a bit too.

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