Coutts wins Wellcome Book Prize

Coutts wins Wellcome Book Prize

Marion Coutts has won the Wellcome Book Prize 2015 with The Iceberg (Atlantic Books).

Bill Bryson, chair of the prize judges, said the book was “painful to read, but beautifully expressed”.

Coutts’ husband, art critic Tom Lubbock, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2008, and died in 2011. The Iceberg is a memoir about the 18 months leading to Lubbock’s death.

Coutts was announced as the winner of the £30,000 prize, awarded for a work of fiction or non-fiction exploring some aspect of medicine, health or illness, at a ceremony tonight (29th April) at the Wellcome Collection in London.

Accepting the award, Coutts said: "I'm delighted that my book was published, let alone won a prize." She dedicated her win to "the ones I love, my boy Eugene, and Tom, who was my husband."

Bryson said: “From an extremely strong shortlist of books that blend exquisite writing with scientific rigour and personal experience, The Iceberg stood out.

“Marion Coutts’ account of living with her husband’s illness and death is wise, moving and beautifully constructed. Reading it, you have the sense of something truly unique being brought into the world – it stays with you for a long time after.”

Simon Chaplin, director of culture and society at the Wellcome Trust, said: “I am delighted that Marion Coutts has taken the prize this year – this is an immensely powerful book, written with astonishing candour and pulsing with raw emotion. The Iceberg shines a burning light on the devastating impact of illness and loss on those who surround and support someone in decline, while simultaneously celebrating the powerful bonds of family and love. It is tremendously difficult to read, but impossible not to become absorbed.”

Coutts’ book has previously been shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, the Costa Biography Award, and the Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize.

Margaret Stead, publishing director at Atlantic, told The Bookseller: "The Iceberg is a bold, powerful, beautifully crafted piece of writing, an act of love, a determined effort to create meaning from the experience of illness and death. We are immensely proud to be Marion’s publishers."

Joining Bryson in judging this year’s prize were Professor Uta Frith, the emeritus professor of cognitive development at UCL; bestselling author Mark Haddon; BBC presenter Razia Iqbal; and barrister and broadcaster Baroness Helena Kennedy.