LONDON (AP) - Scottish writer Douglas Stuart won the Booker Prize for fiction Thursday for "Shuggie Bain", a novel about a boy's turbulent coming of age in hardscrabble 1980s Glasgow that was turned down by 32 publishers before being picked up.
He was chosen as victor from the most diverse shortlist in the prize's five-decade history.
Actor Paapa Essiedu read from finalist Brandon Taylor's "Real Life" at the virtual 2020 Booker Prize ceremony.
Stuart's novel, based on his own childhood, tells the story of a young boy growing up in 1980s Glasgow with a mother who is battling addiction. He attended the Scottish College of Textiles and the Royal College of Art in London, later moving to NY to be a fashion designer and working for labels like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren.
The Booker Prize, which was announced on Thursday will likely attract a large new audience to "Shuggie Bain" and further cement Stuart's reputation as a blazing new literary talent.
Stuart is the second Scottish writer to win the prize.
Stuart dedicated the novel to his late mother, who died of alcoholism when he was 16.
Ishiguro, 66, who won the Man Booker in 1989 for The Remains of the Day, said the prize itself was not the final test.
Special guests included novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, victor of a Booker and the Nobel Prize in literature; Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; and former U.S. President Obama, whose memoir "A Promised Land" hit shelves Tuesday and sold almost 890,000 copies in the U.S. and Canada on its first day.
At the award ceremony, Stuart revealed that his second novel was already ready for publication.
Ahead of the announcement, British bookmakers had backed Stuart to claim the prize for the best work of English-language fiction published in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
In a statement, the chair of this year's judges, Margaret Busby, said that "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".
This year's shortlist has been hailed as the most diverse in the prize's history, dominated as it is by writers of colour, women and debut novelists.
Previous winners include Arundhati Roy for The God of Small Things, Yann Martel for Life of Pi and one of this year's judges, Bernadine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other.
Obama addressed the ceremony via a pre-recorded video message tonight.
Also on the list is Zimbabwean writer Tsitsi Dangarembga's "This Mournable Body", which links the breakdown of its central character and turmoil in post-colonial Zimbabwe.
Margaret Busby was joined on the 2020 judging panel by Lee Child, author; Sameer Rahim, author and critic; Lemn Sissay, writer and broadcaster; and Emily Wilson, classicist and translator. Since 2014, authors from other English-speaking countries have also been eligible to enter the competition.
Considered the most important literary award in Great Britain, the Booker Prize is awarded to authors who write in English and whose works are published in that country.