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Irish author makes shortlist for Wellcome Book Prize

Arnold Thomas Fanning has made the shortlist for Mind on Fire.

Arnold Thomas Fanning
Arnold Thomas Fanning
Image: Penguin Books

AN IRISH AUTHOR has made the shortlist for this year’s Wellcome Book Prize – an award that celebrates pieces of literature that “illuminate the many ways that health, medicine and illness touch our lives”. 

Arnold Thomas Fanning’s Mind on Fire documents his own intensely personal tale of the author’s depression, delusions and eventual recovery. 

In the description of the book on the award’s website, it says: “Very few people have gone through what Fanning went through and emerged alive, well, and capable of telling the tale with such skill and insight.”

On foot of the book, Fanning has received numerous award nominations and been invited to speak at literary and mental health events. 

His work stands alongside books on the shortlist such as Murmer by Will Eaves – a fictionalised account of the life of Alan Turing – and Amateur by Thomas Page McBee – which explores the life of the first transgender man to box at Madison Square Garden. 

Speaking to TheJournal.ie this morning, Fanning said that he was “proud, humbled and excited” at making the shortlist.

“It’s a really nice affirmation for the book,” he said. “I do love the Wellcome Prize list. I’ve been making my way through the longlist in recent months. 

They’re all books that communicate things around health, medicine and illness. My book is about that and recovery as well… It can be very hard to tell how books like this will go. For me, it’s been great to see the reception it’s got on the public side. But on the private side too, I’ve had people come to tell me their own experiences. I believe it’s opened up a dialogue. 

The winner will be revealed at a ceremony on Wednesday 1 May, and will receive a £30,000 prize.

Mind on Fire is published by Penguin Books Ireland.

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Sean Murray

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