Wellcome Book Prize 2019: Announcing Our Shadow Panel Shortlist

Here’s a recap of what’s on the Wellcome Book Prize longlist, with links to all the reviews that have gone up on our blogs so far:

Amateur: A true story about what makes a man by Thomas Page McBee

Laura’s review

Paul’s review

My review

 

Astroturf by Matthew Sperling

Paul’s review

 

Educated by Tara Westover

Annabel’s review

Clare’s review

Laura’s review

My review

 

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

My review

 

Heart: A history by Sandeep Jauhar

Laura’s review

My review

 

Mind on Fire: A memoir of madness and recovery by Arnold Thomas Fanning

My review

 

Murmur by Will Eaves

Annabel’s review

 

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

Clare’s review

My review

 

Polio: The odyssey of eradication by Thomas Abraham

Annabel’s review

 

Sight by Jessie Greengrass

Annabel’s review

Clare’s review

Laura’s review

Paul’s review

My review

 

The Trauma Cleaner: One woman’s extraordinary life in death, decay and disaster by Sarah Krasnostein

Annabel’s review

Laura’s review

My review

 

This Really Isn’t About You by Jean Hannah Edelstein

Laura’s review

My review

 

Together we have chosen the six* books we would like to see advance to the shortlist. This is based on our own reading and interest, but also on what we think best fits the prize’s aim, as stated on the website:

To be eligible for entry, a book should have a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness. 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.

 

Here are the books (*seven of them, actually) that we’ll be rooting for – we had a tie on a couple:

Amateur: A true story about what makes a man by Thomas Page McBee

Educated by Tara Westover

Heart: A history by Sandeep Jauhar

Murmur by Will Eaves

Sight by Jessie Greengrass

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein

This Really Isn’t About You by Jean Hannah Edelstein

 

 


The official Wellcome Book Prize shortlist will be announced on Tuesday the 19th. I’ll check back in on Wednesday with our reactions to the shortlist and the plan for covering the rest of the books we haven’t already read.

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18 thoughts on “Wellcome Book Prize 2019: Announcing Our Shadow Panel Shortlist

    1. It seems to be our collective favourite so far! No, we conferred over e-mail. I’ve met everyone by now through various bookish events in London, but the rest have not all met each other yet. I hope we’ll be able to meet up at the shortlist reading event, or the prize ceremony.

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      1. I hope you will. I had a near miss with Paul who spent the whole of our shadow judging meting on a train between Dorset and London. Thankfully, the mobile signal held out.

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  1. Amazingly, I’ve read half of these! (Amateur, Sight, and The Trauma Cleaner.) And am deeply interested in Jean Hannah Edelstein’s book and in Murmur. (Also, I suppose, in Educated, although everyone seems to have read it so it’s quite far down on my list as it doesn’t appear to need much championing.)

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    1. I can’t remember where I read this — an exchange between a couple of publishing types in America, in which the one said, “that book doesn’t need me to read it.” As in, it’s such a cultural touchstone that you almost feel you’ve read it already!

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      1. I feel that way about quite a few books! (Sometimes I think I’ve actually read them – The Picture of Dorian Gray, I know for a fact, I’ve never read, but I *feel* as though I have!)

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  2. I’ve now got the Edelstein and McBee reserved at the library. Looking forward to reading both. I was pleasantly surprised given our earlier discussions that both Educated and the Trauma Cleaner appear on our shortlist, but I did enjoy reading them both. I hope I can come to one of the events!

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    1. I hope you’ll enjoy those two. The more I thought about Educated and The Trauma Cleaner, the more health themes popped into my mind, especially trauma and memory — I think they deal with those subjects very well.

      Liked by 1 person

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