Ireland’s Paul Lynch wins Booker Prize 2023 for ‘Prophet Song’

Acclaimed Irish author Paul Lynch has won the Booker Prize in 2023.

Ireland’s Paul Lynch wins Booker Prize 2023 for ‘Prophet Song’.

Paul Lynch has won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2023 for the first time for his fifth novel Prophet Song.

Set in Dublin, Prophet Song tells a story of a dystopian Ireland and one family’s attempts to navigate this terrifying new world under authoritarian rule.

Lynch said the book was not an easy one to write. He said it was inspired by the Syrian war and refugee crisis.

Prophet Song – the winner of the Booker Prize 2023

Prophet Song is the winner of the Booker Prize 2023.
Credit: Facebook/ The Booker Prizes

Prophet Song was published in August 2023 by Oneworld. A deeply disturbing and soul-shattering book, it is set in an imagined dystopian Ireland.

The country is in the grips of a government turning towards tyranny, and any rebellion is crushed without mercy.

Set in Dublin, it follows the story of scientist and mother of four, Eilish Stack, as she grapples to save her family from the clutches of totalitarianism.

The novel has been described by the Booker Prize judges as “Timely and unforgettable. It’s a remarkable accomplishment for a novelist to capture the social and political anxieties of our moment so compellingly”.

Ireland’s Paul Lynch wins Booker Prize 2023 – his fifth novel

Paul Lynch was born in Limerick but raised in County Donegal. He is known for his poetic and lyrical style of writing that often explores complex themes.

Lynch won the Booker Prize in 2023 for the first time for Prophet Song, his fifth novel. He was presented with his trophy by Shehan Karunatilaka, the 2022 winner, at a ceremony held at Old Billingsgate, London.

However, he has previously been nominated for and won several other awards. This includes Best Newcomer at Bord Gáis Irish Books of the Year and Prix des Lecteurs Privat, to name a few.

On writing Prophet Song, Lynch said, “‘Four long years it took to write, through pandemic and normality, through Long Covid and health. My son, Elliot, was born just before I began to write, and by the end, he was riding a bike”.

He said he was going to spend some of the £50,000 prize money on his mortgage.

The Booker Prize 2023 – what the judges saw

Head judge Esi Edugyan said the panel “sought a winning novel that might speak to the immediate moment while also possessing the possibility of outlasting it”.

She added, “In these troubled times, we sought a novel with a guiding vision – a book to remind us that we are more than ourselves, to remind us of all that is worth saving”.

The judges said that Prophet Song was “shocking, at time tender” and “terribly moving”. They also spoke of its extremely haunting ending, “one of the most haunting endings you will ever read”.

Other novels shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2023 were The Bee Sting by Paul Murray, Western Lane by Chetna Maroo, This Other Eden by Paul Harding, If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery and Study for Obedience by Sarah Bernstein.

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