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Irishman Paul Lynch’s ‘Prophet Song’ Wins Booker Prize, Says ‘This Was Not An Easy Book to Write’ – News18

Last Updated: November 27, 2023, 09:23 IST

London, United Kingdom (UK)

Lynch, 46, won for his novel presenting a dystopian vision of Ireland in the grips of totalitarianism, something the author describes as “an attempt at radical empathy”. (Image: The Booker Prize)

The Booker Prize 2023 was awarded to Irish author for “Prophet Song,” a dystopian portrayal of Ireland in totalitarian grips

Irish author Paul Lynch’s “Prophet Song” was named the winner of the Booker Prize 2023. At a ceremony held in London, the 46-year-old Irishman won for his novel presenting a dystopian vision of Ireland in the grips of totalitarianism, something the author describes as “an attempt at radical empathy”.

What is Prophet Song about?

Set in Dublin, “Prophet Song” tells the story of a family grappling with a terrifying new world in which the democratic norms they are used to begin to disappear. “I was trying to see into the modern chaos. The unrest in Western democracies. The problem of Syria the implosion of an entire nation, the scale of its refugee crisis and the West’s indifference,” said Lynch, who won the GBP 50,000 literary award.

“Prophet Song” was the bookies’ favourite to win this year’s Booker Prize and makes Lynch the fifth Irish author to win the prestigious prize after Iris Murdoch, John Banville, Roddy Doyle and Anne Enright. London-based Indian-origin author Chetna Maroo’s debut novel “Western Lane”, was also in the race.

Who is Paul Lynch?

​Paul Lynch was born in Limerick in 1977, grew up in Co Donegal, and lives in Dublin. He was previously the chief film critic of Ireland’s Sunday Tribune newspaper from 2007 to 2011 and wrote regularly for the Sunday Times on cinema. He is an internationally acclaimed Irish novelist who has published five novels, winning several awards in the process.

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.

More about Prophet Song

“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,” said Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan, the chair of the Booker Prize 2023 judging panel.

Lynch received his trophy from Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka, last year’s Booker winner for “The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida”, at the awards ceremony held at Old Billingsgate in London. “The judges established at the start of the final meeting that any of the six books on the shortlist would be a worthy winner,” noted Gaby Wood, Chief Executive of the Booker Prize Foundation.

What about Indian Origin Chetna Maroo?

Among the six shortlisted works was Kenya-born Chetna Maroo’s novel set within the context of the British Gujarati milieu, which was praised by the Booker judges for its use of the sport of squash as a metaphor for complex human emotions. It revolves around the story of an 11-year-old girl named Gopi and her bonds with her family.

“It’s also been called a coming-of-age novel, a domestic novel, a novel about grief, a novel about the immigrant experience,” said Maroo of her shortlisted “sports novel”. Sarah Bernstein’s “Study for Obedience”, Jonathan Escoffery’s “If I Survive You”, Paul Harding’s “The Other Eden”, and Paul Murray’s “The Bee Sting” completed the 2023 shortlist. Each of the shortlisted authors received GBP 2,500 and a unique hand-bound edition of their book designed by six fellows of the Designer Bookbinders Society.

(With agency inputs)

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