The longlist for the £25 000 Wellcome Trust Book Prize was announced yesterday, bringing together a varied range of fiction and non-fiction on the theme of health, illness and medicine.
From music to madness and anatomy to genetic engineering, this eclectic mix of books reflects the extraordinary number of ways in which authors can explore medicine to make it both engaging and accessible.
The longlist includes five novels and nine works of non-fiction. The full list is as follows:
- John Coates, 'The Hour Between Dog and Wolf' (Fourth Estate)
- Joshua Cody, '[Sic]' (Bloomsbury)
- Nick Coleman, 'The Train in the Night' (Jonathan Cape)
- Mohammed Hanif, 'Our Lady of Alice Bhatti' (Jonathan Cape)
- Peter James, 'Perfect People' (Macmillan)
- Harry Karlinsky, 'The Evolution of Inanimate Objects' (The Friday Project)
- Darian Leader, 'What is Madness?' (Hamish Hamilton)
- Ken Macleod, 'Intrusion' (Orbit)
- Professor Peter Piot, 'No Time to Lose' (W.W. Norton & Company)
- Michael Shermer, 'The Believing Brain' (Constable & Robinson)
- Tim Spector, 'Identically Different' (Wiedenfeld & Nicolson)
- Rose Tremain, 'Merivel: A Man of his Time' (Chatto & Windus)
- Thomas Wright, 'Circulation' (Chatto & Windus)
- Paul Zak, 'The Moral Molecule' (Transworld)
Clare Matterson, Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust, adds: "This is an excellent and extremely diverse selection of books, reflecting the creative ways in which authors use medicine in fiction and non-fiction. These books challenge and entertain the reader in equal measures, but crucially make us reflect on the impact that medicine has on our lives. It will no doubt be a difficult task for our judges to pick one winner out of such a strong list."
Scientific research, human behaviour and genetics are just some of the themes within this year's longlist, which was selected by a panel of judges chaired by Mark Lawson. Many of the books stimulate interesting debates: what would happen in a world where we could eradicate genetic defects, do our beliefs match reality, and could the key to moral behaviour lie within a single molecule?
Biographies and memoirs also feature in the longlist, ranging from personal experiences of illness to profiles of inspiring individuals such as Peter Piot and William Harvey, who have contributed to scientific progress through their extraordinary work. The list also includes a factitious biography that blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction by retelling Darwinian family history.
Human behaviour is another central theme in the longlist. The books' topics include a study of madness, economic behaviour and its impact on the global economy, the blurring of nature versus nurture in genetics, a theory on how we form beliefs, and a revolutionary theory of moral behaviour.
Last year, a work of fiction won the prize for the first time - Alice LaPlante's 'Turn of Mind' - and several novels are in the running for the 2012 Prize. Revealing an enduring interest in health and medicine across all literary genres, the longlist includes science fiction, a Peter James thriller, a love story and a work of historical fiction.
The shortlist will be announced on 11 October, and the winner of this prestigious prize will be announced at an awards reception at Wellcome Collection, London, on 7 November 2012.
To find out more about The Wellcome Trust Book Prize, please visit the Book Prize website.