Hopeful Book on Autism Wins Top UK Non-Fiction Award

A “hopeful” study of autism has earned its author the Samuel Johnson Prize, the United Kingdom’s most prestigious non-fiction book award. Steve Silberman’s NeuroTribes argues that we should all stop drawing such sharp lines between what is “normal” and what is “abnormal.” Judges said that Silberman’s writing contributed “a hopeful note into a conversation that’s normally dominated by despair.”

Silberman first came into contact with his subject while on assignment for Wired magazine in Silicon Valley. Diagnoses of autism are on the rise, which has in turn given spark to a new “neurodiversity” movement. NeuroTribes covers the history and rise of this movement, which generally rejects the idea of “normalcy” and asserts that neurological differences should be recognized as a kind of diversity rather than a kind of pathology.

Silberman will take home a £20,000 (about $31,000) cash prize. NeuroTribes edged out tough competition from its fellow shortlisted books, which included Jonathan Bate’s controversial new biography of the poet Ted Hughes. You can check out the official announcement over on the Samuel Johnson Prize’s website.

Main image: Carlos Chaverría for the Guardian