The Emperor of All Debuts

02/12/2011 by Stacey Bartlett

A book about cancer and its treatment has won the £10,000 Guardian First Book Award

Siddhartha Mukherjee's The Emperor of All Maladies was the only non-fiction title on the shortlist, and beat Pigeon English and other fiction debuts to the prestigious award, which recognizes the finest new writers who have had their first book published in English in the last year.

Judge and author Sarah Churchwell said: "The Emperor of All Maladies is a cultural history of cancer and its treatment, from its first identification as a disease in the ancient world to 21st century research into its cellular genesis and treatment.
 
"Siddhartha Mukherjee has marshalled an immense amount of material into a readable and inspiring story. The result is a gripping, enlightening read about the nature of illness and our battle against what begins to look like mortality itself."
 
American oncologist and science-writer Mukherjee works at the Columbia University Medical Centre, and began writing the book after a 56-year-old cancer patient asked him to describe exactly what she was fighting.
 
Mukherjee said: "It is a great and distinct honor to be selected for this award. In recognising The Emperor of All Maladies, the judges have also recognised the extraordinary courage and resilience of the men and women who struggle with illness, and the men and women who struggle to treat illnesses. I am delighted and honoured to join a formidable list of writers and scholars - Zadie Smith, Alexandra Harris, Petina Gappah, Alex Ross among them.”
 
The other shortlisted books were Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English, Juan Pablo Villalobos’s Down the Rabbit Hole, Mirza Waheed’s The Collaborator and Amy Waldman’s The Submission
 
  • x
  • x