Wellcome’s 10th Anniversary Shortlist Names Authors from Five Nations

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The Wellcome Book Prize shortlist highlights work from independent publishers Canongate, CB Editions, Oneworld, and Text Publishing. And the Selfies announce their first year’s honors.

The reading room at London’s Wellcome Instititute. Image: CC BY 4.0 Wellcome Collection

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Wellcome Shortlists Works of Fiction, Nonfiction
With its highly specialized mission of recognizing “works of literature that illuminate the many ways that health, medicine and illness touch our lives,” the Wellcome Book Prize has announced today (March 19) its shortlist of six titles.

A winner announcement is scheduled for the evening of May 1 at the Wellcome Collection in Euston Road, London. The prize carries a purse of £30,000 (US$39,819), and the program is describing the shortlist’s topics as including “our complex relationships with gender, identity, mental health and mortality.”

As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, The Wellcome Collection is a museum and library based on medical objects and curiosities gathered by the pharmaceutical entrepreneur Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936). The awards program is part of the larger Wellcome foundation for scientific and health research.

The program’s longlist and now its shortlisted titles have been chosen by a jury chaired by author Elif Shafak, with Kevin Fong, Viv Groskop, Jon Day, and Rick Edwards.

Wellcome Book Prize 2019 Shortlist

Image: Wellcome Book Prize

  • Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man by Thomas Page McBee (Canongate Books) –USA
  • Heart: A History by Sandeep Jauhar (Oneworld) – India and USA
  • Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery by Arnold Thomas Fanning (Penguin Ireland) –  Ireland
  • Murmur by Will Eaves (CB Editions) –  UK
  • My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh (Jonathan Cape) –  USA
  • The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay and Disaster by Sarah Krasnostein (Text Publishing) –  Australia and USA

You can follow news of the Wellcome Prize at hashtag #WBP2019.

And a Tote For Carrying the Shortlist

David Shrigley is the designer of this year’s limited edition tote bag marking the 10th anniversary of the Wellcome Book Prize, and created in support of the UK’s long-running #BooksAreMyBag campaign to promote bookshops.

The 2019 Selfies Award Winner Named

Also in news of award programs, the newly created Selfies Awards for self-published work has named Jane Davis’ Smash All the Windows as its winner in this, the program’s first year.

As we wrote in our shortlist announcement, the Selfies are produced by BookBrunch in association with the London Book Fair and the public relations and author services companies Bookollective and IngramSpark.

The criteria for selection are:

  • A well produced ebook or print book
  • An enticing cover and blurb that successfully addresses the target audience
  • An effective and creative marketing and publicity strategy
  • Great sales potential

As announced in the Author HQ part of the London Book Fair, Davis receives £1,500 (US$1,990) in cash plus a publishing package from IngramSpark, a cover design and a publicity campaign worth £1,000 from Bookollective for her next book.

Davis was cited by the committee for the book’s writing, as well as “a healthy Twitter following, a virtual book club, a we’ll-read blog, and strong approval ratings on Goodreads.

In addition, the jurors awarded a runner-up commendation to historical novelist Jane Steen for her Lady Helena Investigates, the first book in a new series of historical crime fiction from Steen.


More from Publishing Perspectives on the Wellcome Prize is here, and more on publishing and book awards is here.

Our Spring Magazine is ready for your free download, having been produced to coincide with the London Book Fair. Trade visitors to London found a print edition available, also free of charge.

In the magazine, you’ll find issues and players who were important at this year’s London Book Fair and who will factor into other major fairs of the season this year, plus an early look at the coming Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20).

Download the new magazine here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.

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