Ayobami Adebayo, the author of Stay with Me, has been shortlisted for the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize, which celebrates the best new books on health, medicine and illness. She is shortlisted alongside Mark O’Connell for To Be a Machine, Lindsey Fitzharris’ The Butchering Art, Kathryn Mannix for With the End in Mind, Sigrid Rausing for Mayhem: A memoir and Meredith Wadman’s The Vaccine Race.
Adebayo’s heart-breaking debut Stay with Me is the only novel shortlisted. It offers an insight into fertility, family and the devastating effects of sickle-cell disease in 1980s Nigeria.
According to a report in the Irish Times, the prize is chaired by artist and writer Edmund de Waal.
“This year’s judging panel have selected a rich and varied shortlist – one novel, one memoir and four nonfiction books – connected by our complex relationship with mortality. The titles explore bereavement, loss and the fragility of life, consider medical innovations developed to escape death, and reflect on why we should talk more about dying,” said the report.
The paper quotes De Waal as saying the demand of judging the Wellcome Book Prize is to find books that have to be read, books to press into people’s hands, books that start debates or deepen them, that move us profoundly, surprise and delight and perplex us, that bring the worlds of medicine and health into urgent public conversation: books that show us what it is to be human.
“These are six powerful books to read and share,” he stated.