Val McDermid to chair the Wellcome Book Prize 2017


The judges of the Wellcome Book Prize 2017 are announced today, Tuesday 6 September 2016, ahead of the closing date for submissions on Friday 9 September.

Celebrated Scottish crime writer Val McDermid has been announced as the Chair of the Wellcome Book Prize 2017 judging panel, which features leading figures from across the worlds of literature, academia, science and the media.

Val is joined on the panel by Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at the University of Cambridge; Gemma Cairney, BBC broadcaster and author; Tim Lewens, Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge; and Di Speirs, Books Editor for BBC Radio.

The judging panel will be looking for the best book of the year – fiction or non-fiction – that engages with the topics of health and medicine. The Prize aims to reach broad audiences, stimulating interest in and debate around medicine, health and illness through books and reading.

To recognise the breadth, depth and quality of the genre, the Prize will be introducing a longlist of 12 books for the first time, to be announced in January 2017. This will be followed by a shortlist of six books in March 2017, with the winner being announced at a ceremony at Wellcome Collection in April 2017.

Val McDermid commented on behalf of the judging panel:

“I am thrilled and honoured to chair the Wellcome Book Prize 2017, which over the past eight years has celebrated a wealth of extraordinary books that connect literature, health and medicine in a variety of wonderful ways. What also distinguishes this prize is its acknowledgement of the importance of a really good read, whether that comes in the form of fiction or non-fiction, and together with my distinguished fellow judges, I am looking forward to reading and discussing the submissions.”

Kirty Topiwala, Wellcome Collection Publisher and Wellcome Book Prize manager, said:

“Chaired by the utterly brilliant Val McDermid, the judging panel for the Wellcome Book Prize 2017 brings together a broad spectrum of expertise that will no doubt lead to many lively discussions about this year’s submissions. It is such a dynamic time for publishing in the genre of health and medicine, and I can’t wait to see what our judging panel considers the best of these new books that explore what it truly means to be human.”

This will be the eighth year that the £30,000 prize is awarded, which is open to new fiction and non-fiction books published in the UK between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2016.

Closing date for submissions: UK publishers are invited to submit up to three books per imprint. Submissions must be received by 9 September 2016.

The Prize has previously been awarded to Andrea Gillies for ‘Keeper: Living with Nancy’ (2009), Rebecca Skloot for ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ (2010), Alice LaPlante for ‘Turn of Mind’ (2011), Thomas Wright for ‘Circulation’ (2012), Andrew Solomon for ‘Far from the Tree’ (2014), Marion Coutts for ‘The Iceberg’ (2015) and Suzanne O’Sullivan, who was awarded the 2016 Wellcome Book Prize for her highly acclaimed study of psychosomatic illness, ‘It’s All in Your Head’ (Chatto & Windus).

Shortlisted authors and winners can expect widespread media coverage and high-profile events. In 2016 authors featured heavily in online coverage, as well as in 26 national print outlets, including a ‘Guardian Review’ cover story, and in several broadcast programmes, including BBC Radio 4’s ‘Front Row’. Shortlist and winner events were held at the Hay Festival, Wellcome Collection, 5x15 and Latitude Festival.