Wellcome Book Prize Shortlist 2016

It has been book list central recently with many prizes announcing their long and short lists in the last few weeks. I have mentioned the Bailey’s Prize as I am half of the Bearded Bailey’s Book Club and would now like to tell you about another prize which I am involved with and will be telling you more about over the next few months… the Wellcome Book Prize.

What exactly is the Wellcome Book Prize? Funny you should ask that, it is “an annual award, open to new works of fiction or nonfiction. To be eligible for entry, a book should have a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness. This can cover many genres of writing – including crime, romance, popular science, sci fi and history. At some point, medicine touches all our lives. Books that find stories in those brushes with medicine are ones that add new meaning to what it means to be human. The subjects these books grapple with might include birth and beginnings, illness and loss, pain, memory, and identity. In keeping with its vision and goals, the Wellcome Book Prize aims to excite public interest and encourage debate around these topics.”

Now when the PR team behind the prize, the lovely folk at FMcM, asked me to work on this years prize from behind the scenes last year I initially responded ‘but I know nothing about medicine, I barely passed science at GCSE’ I was promised there would be books that would make even the science phobic, like myself, be won over by medicinal books and from the looks of the shortlist announced today they are right. Here it is…

For homepage

The shortlist…

  • The Outrun by Amy Liptrot
  • Signs for Lost Children by Sarah Moss
  • It’s All in Your Head by Suzanne O’Sullivan
  • Playthings by Alex Pheby
  • The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • Neurotribes by Steve Silberman

What are they about? Well instead of giving you the full blurbs, or me badly surmising, here is what was in the press release “The two memoirs on the list, ‘The Outrun’ and ‘The Last Act of Love’, are both stories of devastation and recovery, one following addiction and the other a debilitating accident. ‘Neurotribes’ and ‘It’s All in Your Head’, the other two non-fiction contenders, are studies of autism and psychosomatic illness respectively, reflecting society’s interest in the human mind. The remaining two books on the list are works of fiction. ‘Playthings’ is an immersive imagination of a schizophrenic mind, while ‘Signs for Lost Children’ recounts the pioneering work of an early female medic.”

_88762347_wellcomebookprize2016-judgeswithshortlistl-rtessahadley,sathnamsanghera,joanbakewell-chair,damianbarr,francesbalkwill-3

The lovely judges; Tessa Hadley, Sathnam Sanghera, Joan Bakewell (Chair), Damian Barr, Frances Balkwill

I have only reviewed Cathy Rentzenbrink’s wonderful, wonderful The Last Act of Love on the blog so far but get ready for thoughts on the other five amongst Bailey’s long listed reviews over the next few weeks and maybe a bit more here and there as I will be working with the lovely Wellcome folk over the next month and a bit till the (£30,000 not to be sniffed at) winner is announced including hosting a bloggers brunch at Wellcome HQ with some special guests on April the 2nd. Very exciting.

So what are your thoughts on the list and indeed the idea of prize itself? Have you read any of the shortlisted books and if so what did you make of them?

10 Comments

Filed under Wellcome Book Prize

10 responses to “Wellcome Book Prize Shortlist 2016

  1. Haven’t read any but as someone with Aspergers, it is great to see Neurotribes in this list!

  2. I am almost jealous that you still have the experience of reading ‘Playthings’ in front of you. It blew me away.

  3. I adore the Wellcome Prize lists each year. I’m a sucker for anything-medicine and so enjoy trawling the lists. Congrats on being invited to the behind-the-scenes of this. Got any gossip you can share?🙂

    • Sorry – meant to suggest “When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon who died not long before this was printed. He died of lung cancer (with few, if any, of the risk behaviors associated with that). Anyhoo, a short read that will break your heart as it’s *that* good. Just FYI if you come across it. It’s big over here in the States right now…

  4. This is such a great prize. Looking forward to reading more of & about these books.

  5. All of the books on the Wellcome Book Prize list look pretty amazing. Hope you enjoy taking part.

  6. BeckyHelps

    I recommend Amy Liptrots book THE OUTRUN totally grips you and keeps you wanting to read more. Such a lyrical interesting mix of the personal story and factual snippets about nature, the stars, aloneness and strength. Well done Amy!

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