The Wellcome Book Prize is awarded to a fiction or non-fiction book about health or medicine. Since its launch in 2009, there has been a shortlist of six books but this year, there is a longlist of twelve books for the very first time. The nominated books which were announced today are:
- How to Survive a Plague by David France
- Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
- Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal (translated from the French by Jessica Moore)
- The Golden Age by Joan London
- Cure by Jo Marchant
- The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss
- The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee
- The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
- A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford
- Miss Jane by Brad Watson
- I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong
I only started following the Wellcome Book Prize properly last year and have enjoyed reading shortlisted titles including previous winners It’s All In Your Head by Suzanne O’Sullivan and Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon. I am really pleased there is an expanded longlist this year as health is a subject which is addressed in so many interesting and important ways across both fiction and non-fiction and it is fantastic to see more authors being recognised for their work in this area.
In terms of fiction, regular readers of this blog won’t be surprised to hear that I am pleased to see ‘The Tidal Zone’ on the longlist which is Sarah Moss’s third consecutive nomination along with the critically acclaimed ‘The Essex Serpent’. The first ever translated text to be nominated for the prize is ‘Mend the Living’ about a teenager who undergoes a heart transplant which was longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize last year and there is also a posthumous nomination for Kalanithi’s memoir ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ about his terminal cancer diagnosis. I highly recommend all four of these books and would be happy to see any of them on the shortlist.
The two titles on the longlist which are new to me and have particularly piqued my interest are ‘How to Survive a Plague’ by David France which is a non-fiction account about the early years of the AIDS epidemic and the activists who campaigned for scientific research and ‘The Golden Age’ by Joan London which is a novel about a couple who meet in a polio rehabilitation clinic in Australia in the 1950s. I’ve also heard a lot about ‘Homo Deus’ but I will probably read Yuval Noah Harari’s previous book ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’ first which I already have a copy of.
The shortlist will be announced on 14th March followed by the winner on 24th April. Have you read any of the longlisted titles? Which ones do you recommend?