2018 Wellcome Book Prize – longlist announced

In 1959, CP Snow wrote that “the intellectual life of the whole of Western society is increasingly being split into two polar groups.” He was referring to the estrangement between scientists and literary intellectuals, but his words could have as true for science and the visual arts. Although arts and science are often seen as opposites, science and art both depend on observation, imaging and synthesis.

The 2018 Wellcome Book Prize, an annual British literary award sponsored by Wellcome Trust celebrates the many ways in which literature can illuminate the breadth and depth of our relationship with health, medicine and illness. The winner receives £30,000 making it one of the most remunerative literature awards on offer.

The 2018 Wellcome Book Prize, an annual British literary award sponsored by Wellcome Trust celebrates the many ways in which literature can illuminate the breadth and depth of our relationship with health, medicine and illness. The winner receives £30,000 making it one of the most remunerative literature awards on offer.

In keeping with the vision and goals of Wellcome Trust, the Book Prize “celebrates the topics of health and medicine in literature,” including fiction and non-fiction.

This year’s longlist was selected by a judging panel chaired by artist and writer Edmund de Waal with Dr Hannah Critchlow, Bryony Gordon, Sumit Paul-Choudhury and Sophie Ratcliffe. De Waal said: “The Wellcome Book Prize is unique in its reach across genres, and so the range of books that we have considered has been exhilarating in its extent and ambition. This is a remarkable time for readers, with a great flourishing of writing on ideas around science, medicine and health, lives and deaths, histories and futures. We are proud to be part of this process of bringing to a wider public these 12 tremendous books that have moved, intrigued and inspired us. All of them bring something new to our understanding of what it is to be human.”

The 2018 longlist features three poignant novels about the different stages of love, life, birth and death. These cover the grief of losing a newborn sister through a stunning contemplation of the colour white (The White Book), the deterioration of a relationship, seen through the eyes of an ageing alcoholic (Midwinter Break), and fertility, family and sickle-cell anaemia (Stay With Me).

The 2018 longlist features three poignant novels about the different stages of love, life, birth and death. These cover the grief of losing a newborn sister through a stunning contemplation of the colour white (The White Book), the deterioration of a relationship, seen through the eyes of an ageing alcoholic (Midwinter Break), and fertility, family and sickle-cell anaemia (Stay With Me).

The three memoirs offer a powerful insight into the impact of addiction on a family (Mayhem), the long-lasting effects of trauma and the therapeutic benefits of gardening (Plot 29) and one individual’s near-death experiences in a tenaciously powerful account of what it means to be alive (I Am, I Am, I Am).

Death and mortality are also explored through a touching and unparalleled look into the life of palliative care workers (With the End in Mind) and a very human story about the race against the clock to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease (In Pursuit of Memory).

From the science of our cells to the science of our minds, the longlist reveals the epic and controversial story of the creation of some of the world’s most important vaccines (The Vaccine Race) and an eye-opening exploration of the science of human behaviour (Behave).

Looking to both the history and the future of medical science, the list includes the story of Joseph Lister’s transformation of Victorian surgery (The Butchering Art) and a cutting-edge tour of transhumanism and radical life extension (To Be a Machine).

The shortlist will be announced on March 20th and the winner on April 30th. Irish neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan won in 2016 for It’s All in Your Head. Her follow-up, Brainstorm, is published on April 5th.

Rebecca Wallersteiner

Rebecca Wallersteiner

Rebecca Wallersteiner is a health and arts journalist, who writes for The Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, NetDoctor, Telegraph, The Times, Traveller and
The Oldie magazines. She also works for the NHS and is the Hippocratic Post's roving reporter.
Rebecca Wallersteiner

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