Lindsey Fitzharris Received the 2018 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award for “The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine”
PEN American Center, the largest branch of the world’s leading literary and human rights organization, announced this week the winners and runners-up of the 2018 PEN Literary Awards, the most comprehensive literary awards program in the country. Among the awards is the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, which celebrates writing that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of physical and biological sciences. The winner receives a cash award of $10,000 and is honored at the PEN Literary Awards.
The 2018 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award Winner is:
Lindsey Fitzharris, The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine (Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
From the judges’ citation:
“When Joseph Lister began his career as a surgeon in Victorian England, colleagues wore aprons caked with old blood and rarely washed their knives between procedures. Infections ran rampant, and hospitals were often just way stations to the morgue. In The Butchering Art, Lindsey Fitzharris provides a clear-eyed view over Lister’s shoulder, and lets us watch as he progresses toward the revolutionary idea that invisible germs could be lethal, and that killing those germs might save countless lives. Fitzharris is a brilliant narrator of visceral operating-room scenes, but her account of the medical community’s prolonged and contentious resistance to Lister is just as compelling. This important and compulsively readable book is a reminder that scientific advances face strong headwinds, and that even the best ideas need fierce champions.”