The shortlist has been announced for this year’s Wellcome Book Prize, honouring work – across all genres, including both fiction and non-fiction – that focuses on medicine, health or illness. The prize – presented by London medical museum the Wellcome Collection – was open to any work published in English (including in translation) by a UK publisher throughout 2014, with publishers able to submit for consideration three titles apiece.
The six finalists are: The Iceberg by Marion Coutts; Do No Harm by Henry Marsh; Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss; The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being by Alice Roberts; My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel; and All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews. Bodies of Light and All My Puny Sorrows are both novels, whilst the remaining four titles are non-fiction. The winner will receive a prize of £30,000.
The judging panel this year consists of Professor Uta Frith of UCL, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Mark Haddon, the BBC’s Razia Iqbal, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC and chair of the panel Bill Bryson, who says of the shortlist:
Highlighting the importance of literature in exploring the human experience within medicine, the shortlist for the Wellcome Book Prize 2015 covers a pleasingly diverse array of subjects and genres. All six books blend exquisite writing with scientific rigour and personal experience, making medical science accessible in six very different ways. Having found my own way to science through literature, I’m thrilled to recommend each one of them.
Meanwhile, Ken Arnold – Head of Public Programmes at the Wellcome Collection – says:
This year’s list proves again what a vibrant, surprising and moving slice of contemporary literature Wellcome Collection’s concern with medicine and health can reveal. At an exciting moment for us, when we have unveiled more spaces offering a wider range of programming to encourage greater depths of curiosity than ever, these books make it clear that our core themes are also inspiring some of the best writers at work today. Here are six wonderful books of both fact and fiction that offer powerful insights into the body and the mind, the practices of medicine, as well as the impact of death and suicide. I wait with bated breath to see which one will win our prize.
The winner of this year’s prize will be announced on 29 April.