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Irish author wins Booker Prize with ‘Prophet Song’

Irish author wins Booker Prize with ‘Prophet Song’
28 Nov 2023 11:28


Irish author Paul Lynch who previously described his novel “Prophet Song” as being informed by “the sense of liberal democratic slide” has won the 2023 Booker Prize.

The 46-year-old, who lives in Dublin, was presented with his trophy by last year’s winner Shehan Karunatilaka, at a ceremony held at Old Billingsgate, London. He is the fifth Irish author to win the award, worth £50,000 ($63,000), according to the Booker Prize, following Dame Iris Murdoch, John Banville, Roddy Doyle and Anne Enright.

The event on Sunday had a keynote speech delivered by Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was released from a prison in Iran last year.

Lynch’s fifth novel “Prophet Song” – which is a tale of a tyrannical government – is about a mother-of-four working as a scientist whose husband is taken away by the newly formed Irish secret police.
Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan, chairwoman of the 2023 judges and a previous Booker-shortlisted author, called the tale “a triumph of emotional storytelling, bracing and brave.”

“With great vividness, Prophet Song captures the social and political anxieties of our current moment,” she said. “Readers will find it soul-shattering and true, and will not soon forget its warnings.”

She was asked during a press call if the judges had considered recent events in Dublin, where after a knife attack on children, there followed a series of violent disturbances.

Edugyan said that it was “mentioned at some point” when the book was chosen on Saturday. “I really have to stress that, that was not the reason that Prophet Song won the prize, [and] that we weren’t sort of ... taking our cue ... from world events in such a direct fashion. I think it would have done a great disservice to the [prize],” she added. Edugyan also said the judges felt that it would “have massive impact, that it would outlast this age.”

The violence in the Irish capital, which involved far-right elements, on Thursday saw Garda (Irish police) cars, buses and trams set alight, and shops looted and damaged. The judges also included “Peep Show” actor Robert Webb, “Bridgerton” actress Adjoa Andoh, poet and critic Mary Jean Chan and James Shapiro, a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University.

Lynch told the PA news agency in September: “Authoritarism actually already occurring. What informs this book is the sense of liberal democratic slide that’s been ongoing around the world for the past six, eight years, perhaps 10 years? It was the sense of unravelling that so many of us have just been tuning into and feeling anxious about the thought that could this happen here? No, it couldn’t but yet, there are so many countries around the world where they thought the very same thing.”

Lynch also beat fellow Irish writer Paul Murray, who was shortlisted for “The Bee Sting”, which follows an Irish family facing financial and emotional troubles. All of the shortlisted authors – which also include British author Chetna Maroo, American novelist Jonathan Escoffery, Canadian author Sarah Bernstein and US author Paul Harding – received £2,500 and a bespoke bound edition of their book.

Source: DBA
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