Will Eaves wins Wellcome Book Prize 2019 for Alan Turing inspired novel Murmur

British author Will Eaves has been awarded the 10th anniversary Wellcome Book Prize for his astonishing novel Murmur, inspired by the life and legacy of Alan Turing.

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Will Eaves wins Wellcome Book Prize 2019Will Eaves, winner of Wellcome Book Prize 2019. Photo by David Bishop/Wellcome Collection

Bestselling author and Chair of Judges, Elif Shafak, praised Eaves’ “exquisite craft” in writing a novel of such power it “restores our faith in human beings, and their endless capacity for resilience.”

Eaves (51, London) was selected from a shortlist of six to win the prestigious £30,000 prize, which celebrates exceptional works of fiction and non-fiction that illuminate the many ways that health and medicine touch our lives.

Taking its cue from the arrest and legally-enforced chemical castration of Turing, Eaves fictionalises the devastating period before the mathematician’s death in an extraordinary contemplation of consciousness. Through Alec Pryor – the book’s avatar for Turing – Eaves seamlessly fuses art and science to create a feverish meditation on love, state-sanctioned homophobia and knowledge, alongside an exploration of sexuality, identity and artificial intelligence.

Originally a short story, Murmur is Eaves’ fifth novel and is published by CB Editions, an independent small press run solely by Charles Boyle that releases only a handful of books each year. After being shortlisted for the 2017 BBC National Short Story Award, the novel was nominated for the 2018 Goldsmiths Prize, 2019 James Tait Black Prize and 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize, and awarded the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019.

Murmur is a hugely impressive book that will grip you in the very first pages, break your heart halfway through, and in the end, strangely, unexpectedly, restore your faith in human beings, and their endless capacity for resilience. By the time you finish the book you might fall in love with not only the story and the storytelling, but with the exquisite craft behind it. Every sentence, each character… is well-thought, beautifully written and yet there is a quiet modesty all the way through that is impossible not to admire. Whether he intended this or not, Will Eaves has given us a future classic and for this, we are grateful to him.” 

Elif Shafak, Chair of Judges

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