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Andrew Solomon Receives Wellcome Book Prize for “Far from the Tree”

Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity (Scribner 2012)

After weeks of celebrating all six books on a strong shortlist, Andrew Solomon was announced as the winner of the Wellcome Book Prize 2014 for his book Far from the Tree: A Dozen Kinds of Love at the Wellcome Book Prize Winner Announcement.

The fifth winner of the Wellcome Book Prize prize, re-launched last year, Andrew Solomon will receive £30,000. The Wellcome Book Prize aims to recognise and celebrate the best new work of fiction or non-fiction centred on medicine and health.

Far from the Tree is a monumental work, a decade in the writing, about family. It tells the stories of parents who not only learn to deal with their exceptional children but also find profound meaning in doing so. Drawing on interviews with over three hundred families, covering subjects including deafness, dwarfism, Down’s syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, disability, prodigies, children born of rape, children convicted of crime and transgender people, Andrew Solomon documents ordinary people making courageous choices.

The Wellcome Book Prize’s Chair of Judges, Andrew Motion, said: “Solomon has already been widely praised for his depth of research, his writerly flair, and his range of address – and all these things are indeed remarkable: the book took him ten years to write, and the benefits of his patience and thoughtfulness are evident everywhere. But its greatest strength, perhaps, is to combine proper scholarly objectivity with a sense of intimate connection – and to do so in ways that allow for the creation of distinct categories and clear conclusions, while at the same time admitting contradictions and exceptions.”

Andrew Solomon is a writer and activist working on politics, culture and psychology. Upon winning the prize, he said: “I am profoundly honored to receive the Wellcome Prize; it is a tribute to the many families I interviewed while writing the book, who told me their stories with such bracing honesty and such unyielding passion. I accept this prize on their behalf, with admiration for the human spirit that allowed so many of them to end up grateful for lives they would once have done anything to avoid, that allowed them to love and fight for children whom so much of society might have dismissed. For this award to come so soon after the UK has passed gay marriage is especially cheering; my husband and I are overjoyed, as are so many other people enmeshed in love, to be able to assume that beautiful word for our relationship. That, like this prize, marks a more tolerant, kinder world. This is a rapturous day for me.”