Maylis de Kerangal wins Wellcome Book Prize 2017

‘Mend the Living’, written by Maylis de Kerangal and translated by Jessica Moore, is this year's Wellcome Book Prize winner.

Maylis de Kerangal holding 'Mend the Living', her novel
Maylis de Kerangal won the Wellcome Book Prize for 'Mend the Living', which offers a valuable insight into organ donation.
Credit: Wellcome

Concentrated across a single day, ‘Mend the Living’ is a heartbreaking and gripping novel of life-saving medical science – a 24-hour whirlwind of trauma and death, life and hope.

It tells the story of Simon Limbeau’s heart, from a car accident that leaves Simon brain dead and on life support, to the moment when his heart begins to beat again in the body of someone else.

Maylis de Kerangal(opens in a new tab) is the first French author to have been shortlisted, and it's the first time in the prize's eight-year history that a book in translation has won. Canadian Jessica Moore translated the book from French to English.

LinkThe judges praised Maylis de Kerangal’s beautiful style in this exploration of the complexities of organ donation. Chair of the judges Val McDermid called the book "compelling, original and ambitious" and said it "illuminates what it is to be human".

Kirty Topiwala, publisher at Wellcome Collection and Wellcome Book Prize manager, said the novel "offers a valuable insight into organ donation, and brings new understanding to the lives touched by the transplant process".

The book has been adapted into a film called Heal the Living (Réparer les vivants) by celebrated French director Katell Quillévéré. It will be screened in UK cinemas from 28 April. 

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