Indian American physician and author Siddhartha Mukherjee as well as the late Stanford neurosurgeon Dr. Paul Kalanithi were among those longlisted for this year’s Wellcome Book Prize.

Mukherjee was longlisted for his non-fictional work “The Gene: An Intimate History,” which was published in May 2016. Kalanithi, who died of lung cancer in March 2015, was named to the list for his memoir, “When Breath Becomes Air,” which was released posthumously in February 2016.

Mukherjee took to Twitter to share the announcement:

In his book, Mukherjee blends science, social history and personal narrative, and attempts to tackle the knotty dilemma of whether human beings should remain bound to heredity or alter the course of future generations.

Kalanithi’s memoir reached the top of Amazon.com's best-seller list before its release date, while the New York Times debuted it at No. 1 on its hardcover nonfiction list. Kalanithi was 37 at the time of his passing. He had never smoked. He wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times in January 2014, just months after his 2013 diagnosis. His experience resonated with thousands, generating hundreds of e-mails in response. (Read Kalanithi’s piece, which was reproduced in India-West by special permission from Stanford Medicine magazine, here: http://bit.ly/1EjEA6l.)

Kalanathi, a native of Kingman, Arizona, earned a B.A. and M.A. in English literature and a B.A. in human biology from Stanford University, as well as an M.Phil. in history and philosophy of science and medicine from the University of Cambridge before attending medical school at the Yale School of Medicine.

Mukherjee and Kalanithi’s books are among the 12 books on the list that include seven non-fiction and five fiction titles, including memoirs, contemporary fiction, historical fiction and popular science.

“The longlist for the 2017 prize has been revealed... Its 12 books showcase the breadth and depth of our encounters with medicine,” according to the official website of the prize.

Other works of fiction longlisted include “Mend the Living” by Maylis de Kerangal, “The Golden Age” by Joan London, “The Essex Serpent” by Sarah Perry, “The Tidal Zone” by Sarah Moss and “Miss Jane” by Brad Watson.

“How to Survive a Plague” by David France, “Homo Deus” by Yuval Noah Harari, “Cure” by Jo Marchant, “A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived” by Adam Rutherford and “I Contain Multitudes” by Ed Yong were among the works of non-fiction.

The longlist was finalized in September last year by a judging panel that included academics and authors like Simon Baron-Cohen, Val McDermid and Tim Lewens. Broadcaster Gemma Cairney and radio editor and producer Di Speirs were also on the panel. The shortlist for the 2017 prize will be announced March 14 and the winner April 24.

The annual award recognizes works of literature, both fiction and non-fiction, that have a central theme engaging with some aspect of medicine, health or illness. The genres can vary from crime, romance and popular science to sci-fi and history.

—    With PTI reports

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