“He has that rarest of scientific gifts – the ability to pull back the magical curtain of complexities to reveal, like cells themselves, the foundations of life” – this is how the judges of the prestigious Ballie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction in London described Indian American author Siddhartha Mukherjee.
The New York based Associate Professor of Medicine at Columbia University and a cancer physician and researcher was this week named on the prize’s 2023 longlist for his latest work – ‘The Song of the Cell: An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human’. The annual £50,000 prize aims to recognise and reward the best of non-fiction and is open to authors of any nationality.
The judges added: “The cell is the foundational unit of life. Its discovery reshaped our understanding of our bodies and brains as never before.
“This revolutionised medical practice in the past and, centuries on, holds ever-greater clinical promise for the future. Mukherjee provides the definitive account of this remarkable cellular story, authoritative yet at the same time personal.”
The longlist of 13 books that span the world were chosen by this year’s judging panel including Literary Editor of ‘The Financial Times’ Frederick Studemann, chair of the panel, award-winning author Andrea Wulf, theatre critic for ‘The Guardian’ Arifa Akbar, writer and historian Ruth Scurr, journalist and critic Tanjil Rashid, and Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts Andrew Haldane.
The prize covers all non-fiction in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts. As part of the celebrations marking the prize’s 25th anniversary, as well as the winning author receiving £50,000, the other shortlisted authors will receive £5,000, up from £1,000.
From the longlist of 13, six books on the shortlist will be unveiled on October 8 at a live event at the annual Cheltenham Literature Festival. The winner will be revealed at an awards ceremony at the Science Museum in London on November 16.
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