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Irish Author Lynch Secures Booker Prize Victory

by | Nov 28, 2023 | News

 

Paul Lynch’s Prophet Song has won the £50,000 Booker Prize, with the author receiving the award in London’s Old Billingsgate on Sunday 26 November.  The win is a triumph for the book’s publisher, UK indie Oneworld, making it their third Booker win alongside  Marlon James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout in 2015 and 2016 respectivey.

 

Oneworld publisher Juliet Mabey was among those at the ceremony to see Lynch receive the award.  The publisher has put through a 50,000 reprint.  Lynch is the fifth Irish author to win the Booker Prize, after Iris Murdoch, John Banville, Roddy Doyle and Anne Enright.

 

Prophet Song is Lynch’s fifth novel, and described as “an exhilarating, propulsive and confrontational portrait of a country – and a family – on the brink of catastrophe”.  It is set in an imagined Ireland with a government heading towards tyranny.

 

Author Esi Edugyan, chair of the 2023 judges, said: “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 warning.”

 

She added: “One of the criteria we were looking for when we sat down to discuss what would be the novel that we’d like to present to the world as our winner, was this idea of a kind of timelessness, a book that engaged with themes that are timeless. We’re dealing with timeless themes of repression, of that impulse to always save one’s family, familial love and how to endure during difficult times.

 

“Obviously these are themes that we’re seeing on a grand scale playing out in the world politically today, but that wasn’t the driving central discussion of this book, it was more about what the book was doing on its own terms.”

 

At a press conference following his win Lynch reflected on Ireland being “a great place for writers” due to the support of the Arts Council, which gave him two bursaries while writing Prophet Song. When asked about his reaction to the recent eruption of violence in Dublin, Lynch said that he was “astonished” and at the same time “recognised the truth that this kind of energy is always there under the surface”.

 

“I didn’t write this book to specifically say ‘here’s a warning’, I wrote the book to articulate the message that the things that are happening in this book are occurring timelessly throughout the ages, and maybe we need to deepen our own responses to that kind of idea,” he said, later adding that he is “distinctly not a political novelist”.

 

In a unique and special moment for the Booker Prize, the former British hostage Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was released from Evin prison in Tehran last year, delivered the keynote speech on how books saved her when she was in solitary confinement and how a secret library operated among inmates.

 

 

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