Will Eaves, who has lived in Brixton for 30 years, just won the Wellcome Book Prize 2019 for his latest book Murmur, inspired by the Enigma code breaking mathematician Alan Turing and the devastating period before his death.
Eaves (51, London) was selected from a shortlist of six to win the prestigious £30,000 prize, which celebrates exceptional works of fiction and non-fiction that illuminate the many ways that health and medicine touch our lives.
Bestselling author and Chair of Judges, Elif Shafak, made the announcement at the award ceremony at Wellcome Collection, London, praising Eaves’ “exquisite craft” in writing a novel of such power it “restores our faith in human beings, and their endless capacity for resilience.”
Through Alec Pryor – the book’s avatar for Turing – Eaves fictionalises the arrest and chemical castration of this extraordinary man in a contemplation of consciousness, love, homophobia, identity and the implications of artificial intelligence. Marking the 10th anniversary of this leading prize, Eaves was awarded the prize on 1 May at a Wellcome Collection ceremony.
Originally a short story, Murmur is Eaves’ fifth novel and is published by CB Editions, an independent small press run solely by Charles Boyle that releases only a handful of books each year. After being shortlisted for the 2017 BBC National Short Story Award, the novel was nominated for the 2018 Goldsmiths Prize, 2019 James Tait Black Prize and 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize, and awarded the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019.
Launched in 2009, the competition celebrates the best new books that engage with an aspect of medicine, health or illness, showcasing the breadth and depth of our encounters with medicine through exceptional works of fiction and non-fiction.
Previous winners include Mark O’Connell for To Be a Machine in 2018, Maylis de Kerangal (author) and Jessica Moore (translator) for Mend the Living in 2017.
You can find out more about Will’s work by visiting his website.
Or check out the previous winners at the Wellcome Book Prize.