Awards: Wellcome Winner; Reading the West Shortlist

Mark O'Connell won the £30,000 (about $40,902) Wellcome Book Prize, which recognizes a work of fiction or nonfiction with "a central theme that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness," for To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death.

On behalf of the judging panel, chair Edmund de Waal commented: "To Be a Machine is a passionate, entertaining and cogent examination of those who would choose to live forever. Mark O'Connell brilliantly examines issues of technology and singularity. In doing so he brings into focus timely issues about mortality, what it might mean to be a machine and what it truly means to be human. This is a book that will start conversations and deepen debates. It is a wonderful winner of the Wellcome Book Prize."

Kirty Topiwala, publisher at Wellcome Collection and Wellcome Book Prize manager, added: "This book is fresh, funny and disquieting. It raises profound questions about our future and challenges how we think about health and humanity. This is very much at the core of what we do at Wellcome Collection, making To Be A Machine an exciting and worthy winner of this ever-diverse prize."


The shortlist has been announced for the Reading the West Book Awards, sponsored by the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association. Winners will be named May 31. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Adult fiction
The Widow Nash by Jamie Harrison (Counterpoint Press)
The Vengeance of Mothers: The Journals of Margaret Kelly & Molly McGill by Jim Fergus (St. Martin's)
Celine by Peter Heller (Knopf)
Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Viking)
The Underworld by Kevin Canty (Norton)

Adult nonfiction
Transplants: Eclectic Floral Design by Antonio Bond (Blue Star Press)
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (Doubleday)
Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands by Roger D. Hodge (Knopf)
Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River by David Owen (Riverhead)
Wild Horse Country: The History, Myth, and Future of the Mustang by David Philipps (Norton)

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin (Roaring Brook Press)
The Survivor Tree: Oklahoma City's Symbol of Hope and Strength by Gaye Sanders, illustrated by Pamela Behrend (The RoadRunner Press)
Just Dance by Patricia MacLachlan (S&S/Margaret K. McElderry Books)
The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody (Simon Pulse)
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling (Sterling Children's Books)

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