The shortlist for the Wellcome Book Prize 2015 has been announced by acclaimed author and chair of judges, Bill Bryson. Joined by Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes at Wellcome Collection, Bryson revealed the six shortlisted titles at a breakfast event held in Wellcome Collection’s new Reading Room.
Celebrating the best new books that engage with some aspect of medicine, health or illness, the 2015 shortlist showcases the breadth and depth of our encounters with medicine through six exceptional works of fiction and non-fiction:
'The Iceberg' by Marion Coutts (Atlantic)
'Do No Harm' by Henry Marsh (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
'Bodies of Light' by Sarah Moss (Granta)
'The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being' by Alice Roberts (Quercus)
'My Age of Anxiety' by Scott Stossel (Windmill Books)
'All My Puny Sorrows' by Miriam Toews (Faber)
The two novels and four non-fiction books capture a diverse range of perspectives and characters – from brain surgeon to anxiety sufferer, historic trailblazer to bereaved survivor of loss.
Worth £30,000, the 2015 prize is judged by a panel comprising internationally acclaimed author and Chair of Judges, Bill Bryson; Prof. Uta Frith DBE, the Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development at UCL; bestselling author Mark Haddon; BBC presenter Razia Iqbal; and barrister and broadcaster Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.
Chair of Judges Bill Bryson said: "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."
Head of Public Programmes at Wellcome Collection Ken Arnold said: "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."
Previous winners of the Wellcome Book Prize have been Andrew Solomon for 'Far From the Tree: Parents, children and the search for identity' in 2014, Thomas Wright for 'Circulation' in 2012, Alice LaPlante for 'Turn of Mind' in 2011, Rebecca Skloot for 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' in 2010, and Andrea Gillies for 'Keeper: Living with Nancy – A Journey into Alzheimer’s' in 2009.
Re-launched in 2014 with the strapline 'Books for the incurably curious', the Prize is open to both fiction and non-fiction titles which have been published in the UK during the Prize year. The winner of the Wellcome Book Prize 2015 will be announced on Wednesday 29 April.