Marion's husband Tom spent his last weeks at Trinmity Hospice
From The Guardian 29.04.2015
Wellcome book prize
Marion Coutts wins 2015 Wellcome book prize for The Iceberg
Marion Coutts’ moving and unflinching account of her husband’s illness and death has won the 2015 Wellcome book prize.
Chair of judges Bill Bryson said The Iceberg was “painful to read, but beautifully expressed. She recalls things with such vivid detail that you almost feel you’re reliving this experience with her in real time”.
Related: Marion Coutts: 'There is going to be a destruction… the obliteration of a person'
Coutts, an artist and writer, was married to the Independent’s art critic Tom Lubbock. In 2008 he was diagnosed with a brain tumour which in time took away his ability to speak. In 2011, he died.
Bryson said: “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.”
The Wellcome book prize was created to celebrate fiction and non-fiction which engages in some way with medicine, health or illness.
Coutts wins £30,000, having triumphed from a shortlist that also included Do No Harm by Henry Marsh, Bodies of Light by Sarah Moss, The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being by Alice Roberts, My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel, and All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews.
Simon Chaplin, the director of culture and society at the Wellcome Trust, called Coutts’ book “immensely powerful” and “written with astonishing candour and pulsing with raw emotion.”
He added: “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.”
The award was presented in the new Reading Room of the Wellcome Collection in London.
The medical charity is under pressure to sell off its investments in fossil fuels and join the Guardian Keep it in the ground campaign – a proposal supported by Coutts when the Guardian approached her for comment.
Coutts’ book describing the 18 months leading up to her husband’s death has been shortlisted for the Pol Roger Duff Cooper prize, the Costa Biography award, and the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. It lost out to H is for Hawk in the latter two competitions.
Also on the judging panel were the writer Mark Haddon, the BBC journalist Razia Iqbal, the barrister Dame Helena Kennedy, and the academic Uta Frith.
The Iceberg: A Memoir by Marion Coutts (Atlantic Books, £8.99). To order a copy for £7.19, go to bookshop.theguardian.com or call 0330 333 6846 Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p&p of £1.99.