LONDON A history of cancer, "The Emperor of All Maladies", won the 2011 Guardian First Book Award on Thursday, beating four works of fiction also on the shortlist.
The author, American oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee, has described the work as a "biography" of cancer, or "an attempt to enter the mind of this immortal illness, to understand its personality, to demystify its behaviour".
The annual prize organised by British newspaper The Guardian, and worth 10,000 pounds to the winner, is open to all first-time authors writing in English or translated into English across all genres in the last year.
"It is a great and distinct honour to be selected for this award," Indian-born Mukherjee said.
"In recognising The Emperor of All Maladies, the judges have also recognised the extraordinary courage and resilience of the men and women who struggle with illness, and the men and women who struggle to treat illnesses."
The other shortlisted works were "Pigeon English" by Stephen Kelman, "Down The Rabbit Hole" by Juan Pablo Villalobos, "The Collaborator" by Mirza Waheed and "The Submission" by Amy Waldman.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)