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Writer's memoir wins literary prize

Published 29/04/2015

The Iceberg by Marion Coutts has won the £30,000 Wellcome Prize (Wellcome/PA)
The Iceberg by Marion Coutts has won the £30,000 Wellcome Prize (Wellcome/PA)

A writer's memoir of her husband's illness and eventual death after being diagnosed with a brain tumour has won a prestigious literary prize.

The Iceberg by Marion Coutts won the £30,000 Wellcome Prize with writer Bill Bryson, who chaired the judging panel, saying it was "pa inful to read, but beautifully expressed".

It centres on her life in the 18 months leading up to her art critic husband's death in 2011 from the tumour that also destroyed his ability to speak.

Bryson said: " Marion Coutts' account of living with her husband's illness and death is wise, moving and beautifully constructed.

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

Among the other books that were shortlisted for the prize, which celebrates work about "medicine, health or illness", was a memoir by a neurosurgeon and one man's account of his struggle with anxiety .

Simon Chaplin, the director of culture and society at the Wellcome Trust which runs the prize, said it was "an immensely powerful book" that pulsed with "raw emotion ".

He said: " The Iceberg shines a burning light on the devastating impact of illness and loss on those who surround and support someone in decline, while simultaneously celebrating the powerful bonds of family and love.

"It is tremendously difficult to read, but impossible not to become absorbed."

Ms Coutts, who lectures in fine arts at London's Goldsmiths College, lives in the capital with her son.

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