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2023 Booker Prize Awarded to Prophet Song By Paul Lynch




The winner of 2023 Booker Prize has finally been announced. Prophet Song by the Irish writer Paul Lynch was handed the prize "for his exhilarating and propulsive portrait of a nation sliding into tyranny and one woman's attempts to hold her family together."


On a dark, wet evening in Dublin, scientist and mother-of-four Eilish Stack answers her front door to find the GNSB on her doorstep. Two officers from Ireland’s newly formed secret police want to speak with her husband… Things are falling apart. Ireland is in the grip of a government that is taking a turn towards tyranny. And as the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, Eilish finds herself caught within the nightmare logic of a collapsing society - assailed by unpredictable forces beyond her control and forced to do whatever it takes to keep her family together.  


"From that first knock at the door, Prophet Song forces us out of our complacency as we follow the terrifying plight of a woman seeking to protect her family in an Ireland descending into totalitarianism. We felt unsettled from the start, submerged in - and haunted by - the sustained claustrophobia of Lynch’s powerfully constructed world. He flinches from nothing, depicting the reality of state violence and displacement and offering no easy consolations. Here the sentence is stretched to its limits - Lynch pulls off feats of language that are stunning to witness. He has the heart of a poet, using repetition and recurring motifs to create a visceral reading experience. This is a triumph of emotional storytelling, bracing and brave. With great vividness, Prophet Song captures the social and political anxieties of our current moment. Readers will find it soul-shattering and true, and will not soon forget its warnings," Esy Edugyan, chair of the judges, expains their choice.


Being the fifth writer to win the Booker Prize, Paul Lynch was born in Limerick in 1977 and now lives in Dublin. Before Prophet Song, Lynch wrote Beyond the Sea, Grace, The Black Snow and Red Sky in Morning. His third novel, Grace, won the 2018 Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year and the 2020 Ireland Francophonie Ambassadors’ Literary Award. His second novel, The Black Snow, won France’s bookseller prize, Prix Libr’à Nous for Best Foreign Novel.  


According to the writer, "Prophet Song  is partly an attempt at radical empathy. To understand better, we must first experience the problem for ourselves. So I sought to deepen the dystopian by bringing to it a high degree of realism. I wanted to deepen the reader’s immersion to such a degree that by the end of the book, they would not just know, but feel this problem for themselves."


Last year the Booker Prize was awarded to The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka.


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