Paul Lynch, an Irish writer, is the 2023 Booker Prize winner for his dystopian book
Paul Lynch, an Irish writer, is the 2023 Booker Prize winner for his dystopian book "Prophet Song"

London, Nov. 27: According to the New York Times, Irish writer Paul Lynch, whose dystopian work “Prophet Song” imagines an imagined near-future Ireland falling into authoritarianism and then experiencing a civil war, has received the 2023 Booker Prize.

According to the New York Times, “Prophet Song” is set in the near future and revolves around Eilish Stack, a scientist and mother of four, whose trade unionist husband is abducted by the security forces. This is an early indication of the rise of authoritarian rule that would ultimately result in a civil war in Ireland.


The head of this year’s judging panel, author Edugyan, said that while “Prophet Song” connected with current issues like the Israel-Hamas conflict, the book won purely on the basis of its literary qualities.

“This is an incredible achievement in emotive storytelling—bold and courageous,” Edugyan said before the declaration at a press conference.

Even after six hours of discussion, the judges’ verdict was not unanimous, according to Edugyan. Nevertheless, the jury thought that “Prophet Song,” which “captures the social and political anxieties of our current moment,” was a deserving winner, she said.

“Things could have happened in a different way,” Edugyan said. The judges ultimately “felt that this was the book that we wanted to present to the world—that this was truly a masterful work of fiction,” she said.

According to the New York Times, “Prophet Song,” which Grove Atlantic will release in North America on December 5, was chosen ahead of five other shortlisted books, which included Paul Harding’s “This Other Eden,” Chetna Maroo’s “Western Lane,” and Paul Murray’s “The Bee Sting.”

“If I Survive You” by Jonathan Escoffery and “Study for Obedience” by Sarah Bernstein were the other books on the shortlist.

The New York Times noted that the book has garnered conflicting reviews in Britain and Ireland.

“A compassionate, propulsive, and timely novel that forces the reader to imagine—what if this was me?” was how Lucy Popescu described it in The Financial Times.

While Laura Hackett of The Times of London described it as “an exercise in totalitarianism by numbers,” Aimee Walsh of The Observer referred to it as “a crucial book for our current times.”

“It’s not difficult to tell the difference between Paul Lynch’s writing and a ray of sunshine,” Katherine Grant quipped in her New York Times book review. She also mentioned Lynch’s “undiminished appetite for the depiction of suffering.”

Recasting sea-crossing migrants as middle-class Europeans was described as “something almost obscenely decadent” by Anthony Cummins in The Guardian. However, “‘Prophet Song’ is a novel to argue about, whatever else it is.”

The 19th-century novel “Red Sky in Morning,” written by 46-year-old former movie critic Lynch, tells the story of an Irishman who kills a guy and escapes to America in 2013. His other works include Grace, which is set during an Irish famine, and Beyond the Sea, which is about two men who get stuck offshore.

According to the New York Times, the Booker Prize, which has a monetary value of 50,000 euros, or around USD 63,000, is given yearly to the greatest English-language book published in Britain or Ireland.

Established in 1969, the award has also been noted for fostering the careers of rising talents. Past recipients have included literary luminaries including Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, and Hilary Mantel. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, a book by Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka that explores the grief of his nation’s civil conflict, took home the prize last year.



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