The Londoner: Booker winners Douglas Stuart and Bernadine Evaristo say publishers are too middle-class

·3-min read
<p>Douglas Stuart, the winner of the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction</p> (thebookerprizes/AFP via Getty Im)

Douglas Stuart, the winner of the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction

(thebookerprizes/AFP via Getty Im)

BOOKER PRIZE winners Douglas Stuart and Bernardine Evaristo have hit out against the “middle-class” publishing industry for shying away from working-class stories.

Stuart, whose semi-autobiographical novel Shuggie Bain won over judges, said: “One of my biggest regrets I think is that growing up so poor I almost had to elevate myself to the middle class to turn around to tell a working-class story.”

Stuart received 32 rejections from publishers who struggled with how to pitch his debut which tells the story of a child, Shuggie, growing up in poverty with alcoholic mother Agnes on a Glasgow estate in the Eighties. “Everyone was writing these really gorgeous letters. They were saying ‘oh my god this will win all of the awards and it’s such an amazing book and I have never read anything like that, but I have no idea how to market it’,” he told a Southbank Centre event with Evaristo last night.

Evaristo, who won the Booker last year with Girl, Woman, Other said: “Certainly the publishing industry in the UK has been very white and it has been very middle class, there have been a lot of conversations around the fact a lot of working-class stories don’t get told.”

The event is available online for the next seven days.

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