Wellcome Book Prize 2019 shortlist announced

News - Prizes Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Four non-fiction works, two novels in contention for £30,000 medical-themed book prize


The shortlist for the 2019 Wellcome Book Prize, for a book on a medical theme, has been announced. The judges for the £30,000 prize are novelist Elif Shafak (chair); Kevin Fong, consultant anaesthetist at University College London Hospitals; Viv Groskop, writer, broadcaster and stand-up comedian; Jon Day, writer, critic, and academic; and Rick Edwards, broadcaster and author.

The six titles, with judges' comments, are:

Amateur: A Reckoning with Gender, Identity and Masculinity, Thomas Page McBee (Canongate)
"Amateur is a book about many things: masculinity, sex, gender and expectation. A fascinating blend of science and memoir, it challenges and confounds some of our most ingrained prejudices. But above all, Amateur is the story of an extraordinary man, fighting to find his place in the world." - Kevin Fong

Heart: A History, Sandeep Jauhar (Oneworld)
"This is a vital book. A charming, honest and unflinching exploration of a most fascinating organ: the heart. Cardiologist and author Sandeep Jauhar beautifully weaves medical research with philosophy, science with personal stories - of patients and doctors, including his very own. The depth of his knowledge is remarkable but the breadth of his compassion even more so." - Elif Shafak

Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery, Arnold Thomas Fanning (Penguin Ireland)
"Arnold Thomas Fanning is a successful playwright now but in his 20s he suffered with severe bouts of mania and depression. In this unflinching present-tense memoir he recounts in vivid, and often harrowing, detail his descent into madness, hospitalisation and homelessness during a biting London winter. Masterfully written, it gives extraordinary insight into what it feels like to be in the grips of delusion." - Rick Edwards

Murmur, Will Eaves (CB Editions)
"Beautifully imagined, splendidly paced, masterfully written, Murmur is a real gem – a book to fall in love with. This novel will grip your mind in the very first pages, break your heart half-way through, and in the end, strangely, unexpectedly, restore your faith in human beings and their endless capacity for resilience." - Elif Shafak

My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Ottessa Moshfegh (Cape)
"Jane Eyre meets Prozac Nation in this wonderfully caustic, funny and feminist novel about a woman who decides that self-medication and isolation in a Manhattan apartment are the only way to maintain sanity. Original, playful and strangely profound. After all, who hasn’t occasionally wanted to avoid life through a drug-induced sleep?" - Viv Groskop

The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman's Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay and Disaster, Sarah Krasnostein
"The Trauma Cleaner is that rare thing: a book that gets better the more times you read it. It tells the story of a woman with a traumatic past, a triumphant present, and a job few people want to think about. Above all it is the story of a friendship. It simply crackles with life." - Jon Day

The winner will be announced at an evening ceremony on Wednesday 1 May at Wellcome Collection.

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