Wellcome Book Prize won by Will Eaves’ Alan Turing novel

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Will Eaves’ novel Murmur is inspired by Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing

A “profound” novel inspired by the legacy of the Enigma code-breaking mathematician Alan Turing has won the Wellcome Book Prize.

Murmur by Will Eaves was named the winner of the award, which honours books that have a central theme of health or medicine, on Wednesday.

It is only the third novel to secure the £30,000 prize.

Head judge Elif Sharaf praised Eaves’ “exquisite craft” and described the book as a “future classic”.

The Wellcome Book Prize has been awarded annually since it was launched in 2009.

Murmur, through its protagonist Alec Prior, fictionalises Turing’s 1952 arrest as a gay man and subsequent chemical castration, to explore the impact of torture on the mind.

He survived the ordeal, but committed suicide two years later in 1954. Turing was granted a posthumous royal pardon in 2013.

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Wellcome Collection

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The novel has already been described as a “future classic”

Written as a sequence of dreams and letters, Murmur is bookended by extracts from a fictional journal detailing the struggle he faced.

The British writer drew from his time studying at King’s College Cambridge with a chronic spinal condition for inspiration.

The author of five other novels and two collections of poetry, Eaves was arts editor of the Times Literary Supplement from 1995 to 2011, and now teaches at the University of Warwick.

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