Wellcome Book Prize 2017: Shortlist Press Conference

Wellcome Book Prize 2017: Shortlist Press Conference

14 Mar 2017, 10:00 - 11:00

English PEN Literary Salon


The Wellcome Book Prize celebrates exceptional works of fiction and non-fiction that engage with the topics of health and medicine and the many ways they touch our lives. 

The shortlist for the 2017 prize will be exclusively announced at London Book Fair by this year’s judging panel, chaired by acclaimed Scottish crime author Val McDermid. Val will be joined by fellow judges Simon Baron-Cohen, Gemma Cairney, Tim Lewens and Di Speirs as they reveal the six titles in contention for the prize and the reasons why these books have earnt their place on the shortlist. 

The 2017 Wellcome Book Prize longlist was announced in January and comprises seven non-fiction and five fiction titles, including memoir, contemporary fiction, historical fiction and popular science. Authors from the UK and USA appear, alongside the first Australian, French and Israeli contenders for the £30,000 prize. 

The full 2017 Wellcome Book Prize longlist is: 


  • How to Survive a Plague by David France (USA)  
  • Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari (Israel) 
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (USA) 
  • Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal (France) trans. Jessica Moore 
  • The Golden Age by Joan London (Australia) 
  • Cure by Jo Marchant (UK) 
  • The Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss (UK) 
  • The Gene by Siddhartha Mukherjee (USA) 
  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry (UK) 
  • A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford (UK) 
  • Miss Jane by Brad Watson (USA) 
  • I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong (UK) 


The 2017 Wellcome Book Prize winner will be announced on Monday 24 April at an evening reception at Wellcome Collection. Previous winners include Suzanne O’Sullivan, Marion Coutts and Andrew Solomon.



  • Simon Baron-Cohen



    The Autism Research Centre

    Simon Baron-Cohen is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology and a fellow of Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. He is also the...

  • Gemma Cairney




    Gemma Cairney is a BBC broadcaster, magpie and life enthusiast who has won Sony Awards for making documentaries on subjects such as young people in...

  • Tim Lewens


    Professor of Philosophy of Science

    The University of Cambridge

    Tim Lewens is Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge, where he is also Deputy Director of CRASSH – the Centre for Research...

  • Di Speirs


    Books Editor

    BBC Radio

    Di Speirs is the Books Editor for BBC Radio, responsible for the work of the London Readings Unit and for Open Book and Bookclub on BBC Radio 4 and...

  • Val McDermid



    Val McDermid is a number-one bestseller whose novels have sold over 15 million copies and been translated into more than 30 languages. She has won...


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