Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Skloot Picks Up Another Major Prize!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the marvelous book by Portland-raised writer Rebecca Skloot, has received yet another accolade (on top of this week's announcement by Publishers Weekly that the book is one of the ten best books 2010): the book has won the UK-based Wellcome Trust Book Prize.

The £25 000 Wellcome Trust Book Prize, in its second year, is open to outstanding works of fiction and non-fiction on the theme of health and medicine. It brings together the worlds of medicine and literature, appealing to literature lovers and science enthusiasts.

The trust was established in 1936 under the terms of Sir Henry Wellcome's will, with the trustees charged with using the profits of the company to support research "for the benefit of mankind." "We are a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. We support the brightest minds in biomedical research and medicine-related art....We are independent of both political and commercial interests."

Clive Anderson, chair of the five-person judging panel, had this to say about Rebecca's book: "This is an engaging account of the life of Henrietta Lacks who died in Baltimore nearly 60 years ago and the immortal life of her cancer cells, which continue to replicate in research laboratories around the world to this day. There are several stories to be told: the changing attitudes and ethics of the medical profession; the economics of healthcare; and the successes and slip ups of modern scientific methods. In addition, the book reveals the human story of Henrietta Lacks' family, who the author got to know in the course of her extensive research. A worthy winner of a prize designed to honour fine writing on a medical theme."

Clare Matterson, Director of Medical Humanities and Engagement at the Wellcome Trust added: "It's wonderful that the prize has been awarded to a book that was such a labour of love for its author.  Rebecca Skloot's work absolutely meets the objective of this prize.  It has something of everything - a compelling science story, an emotional personal story and intriguing ethical dilemmas - and all woven together and written with great style."

We've written TONS about this book previously (here's just one link), so we won't go on and on about it again. Suffice it say that we're thrilled and very happy for Rebecca (although we still think the book should have been a finalist for a National Book Award).

One of the shortlisted books for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize is a novel that I've been wanting to read: So Much for That, by Lionel Shriver (who is a woman, in case you were wondering). Her novel was just shortlisted for a National Book Award. You can read about the other books on the shortlist by clicking on the Wellcome Trust Book Prize link above.

Congratulations, Rebecca!

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