The Wellcome Book Prize 2018 winner has been announced

THE long-anticipated Wellcome Book Prize winner has been announced. Judged by a panel of six and led by Edmund de Waal OBE the deliberations have taken place over the last two months. Last month we told you that the longlist had been condensed into a shortlist consisting of six titles all exploring topics of health and medicine and the many ways they touch our lives. And now we can reveal that the 2018 winner is To Be a Machine by Mark O’Connell.

Mark O’Connell, To Be a Machine – cover.

Mark O’Connell.

The critically acclaimed debut by the Irish author Mark O’Connell is the first full-length exploration of transhumanism, a movement that seeks to cheat mortality and use technology for human evolution. To Be a Machine reflects a cultural obsession with futuristic dystopias, fuelled by TV series such as Westworld, Black Mirror and Altered Carbon. Likened to Jon Ronson, Don DeLillo and Louis Theroux, O’Connell goes further to explore the philosophy and science behind transhumanism, looking at current technological developments together with the opportunities and concerns for the future.

The 2018 Wellcome Book Prize shortlist.

This will be the ninth year that the £30,000 Prize is awarded. Kirty Topiwala, Publisher at Wellcome Collection and Wellcome Book Prize Manager, said, “Year on year this genre continues to excel”. Edmund De Wall OBE spoke of this year’s winner saying, “Mark O’Connell brilliantly examines issues of technology and singularity. In doing so he brings into focus timely issues about mortality, what it might mean to be a machine and what it truly means to be human. This is a book that will start conversations and deepen debates. It is a wonderful winner of the Wellcome Book Prize.”

Wellcome Book Prize judging panel led by artist and writer Edmund de Waal OBE and joined by Dr Hannah CritchlowBryony GordonSumit Paul-Choudhury and Sophie Ratcliffe.

Mark O’Connell To Be a Machine joins previous winners Maylis de Kerangal (author) and Jessica Moore (translator) for Mend the Living in 2017, Suzanne O’Sullivan for It’s All in Your Head in 2016 and Marion Coutts for The Iceberg in 2015. If you’d like more information on all of the 2018 finalists’ work please visit here.

by Lily Rimmer

To Be a Machine: Adventures among cyborgs, utopians, hackers, and the futurists solving the modest problem of death By Mark O’Connell (published by Granta Books, paperback, £9.99)