And the Winner Is…

I’m just back from London, where I saw the Wellcome Book Prize 2017 announced in the course of an awards ceremony held at the Wellcome Collection. It was an enjoyable evening; I needn’t have been so nervous. And it was lovely to meet two fellow bloggers.

I’ll post a full write-up tomorrow, but for now I will just convey the news, to those who may not have heard yet, that the winner of this year’s Wellcome Book Prize is Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal. This was quite a shock to many of us in attendance. I hope it won’t sound ungracious if I say it was the collective least favorite of the shadow panel. But keep in mind that that’s relative: it was a strong set of six very different books, each worth reading.

9 responses

  1. I’ve just re-read your review of the winning book, and it hasn’t made it, on the strength of what you wrote, onto my ‘must ready list.


    1. Read Annabel’s review instead if you want to be convinced 🙂 (see below)


  2. Prizes are for putzes. (Forgive my rusty Yiddish.) Of course I’m saying ths to be funny, no truthful, no funny. And I was raised Catholic, with nary a hint of Yiddish (my loss).


    1. It does seem rather arbitrary who ends up winning them. I think the Wellcome Book Prize brief is quite clear, and yet the judges interpreted it differently than I personally, or my shadow panel collectively, did.


  3. Annabel (gaskella) | Reply

    I did love this book – so I’m delighted that it won (it is the only one I have read though from the shortlist). I suspect the judges thought it was time for a fiction book to win – after a run of nf/memoirs.


    1. I knew you’d be pleased! It’s only the second novel to win (the first was in 2011), though if it was fiction they were after I think The Tidal Zone was superior. Interesting too that it’s the first work in translation to win. The prize is split between the author and the translator.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Of the two fiction shortlisted, I preferred this one to the Tidal Zone. Good shortlist nonetheless.


    1. I agree it was a strong shortlist. I could see good reasons for any one of the six winning.


  5. […] There are four nonfiction books and two novels on the shortlist. Given that novelist Elif Shafak is the chair of judges in this 10th anniversary year, it could make sense for there to be a fiction winner this year; this would also cement an alternating pattern of fiction / nonfiction / fiction, following on from Mend the Living and To Be a Machine. If that’s the case, since Moshfegh’s novel, though a hugely enjoyable satire on modern disconnection and emotional numbness, doesn’t have the strongest health theme, perhaps we will indeed see Murmur take the prize, as Annabel predicted in her review. Alternatively, Amateur feels like a timely take on gender configurations, so maybe, as Laura guesses, it will win. I don’t think I could see the other four winning. (Then again, my panel’s predictions were wildly off base in 2017!) […]


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