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Memoir about husband’s brain tumour wins prize

By Reuters | May 2nd 2015

Visual artist Marion Coutts’s memoir “The Iceberg” about the time she spent nursing and caring for her writer husband Tom Lubbock as he slowly died of a brain tumor was named the winner on Wednesday of the Wellcome Book Prize 2015.

Coutts’s book was chosen from a shortlist of six finalists for the 30,000 pound ($46,300) cash award, the London-based Wellcome Trust, a biomedical research charity, said in a statement.

“Marion Coutts’s account of living with her husband’s illness and death is wise, moving and beautifully constructed,” writer and humorist Bill Bryson, the chair of judges, said.

“Reading it, you have the sense of something truly unique being brought into the world - it stays with you for a long time after.”

Coutts’s book describes the changes in the lives of her critic and historian husband, their young son and her own as they grappled with Lubbock’s diagnosis in 2008 that he had a grade four tumour that was seated in the area of the brain controlling speech and language.

Rituals of nursing

Lubbock managed to write his own book, “Until Further Notice, I Am Alive”, which was published in 2012, after his death in January 2011. Coutts’s book describes the rituals of nursing and caring for Lubbock, the impact on her work as an artist, and her own reactions to living with a dying man.

“I have never cried like this. The fatigue of it is seismic,” she writes at one point.

Other works shortlisted for the prize awarded to a fiction or non-fiction book published in Britain that meets the criterion of appealing to “the incurably curious” were: “Do No Harm” by Henry Marsh, “Bodies of Light” by Sarah Moss, “The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being” by Alice Roberts, “My Age of Anxiety” by Scott Stossel and “All My Puny Sorrows” by Miriam Toews.

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