The 2023 Booker Prize has been awarded to Prophet Song, a dystopian vision of Ireland in the grips of totalitarianism.
The novel was authored by Ireland’s Paul Lynch, 46, marking the first time he has won the prestigious fiction writing prize.
Set in Dublin, it tells the story of a family grappling with a terrifying new world in which the democratic norms they are used to begin to disappear.
Award winner Lynch was awarded the £50, 000 literary prize at a ceremony held at Old Billingsgate, London on Sunday, November 26. . Canadian writer Esi Edugyan, who chaired the judging panel, said the book is “a triumph of emotional storytelling, bracing and brave” in which Lynch “pulls off feats of language that are stunning to witness.”
Lynch said that Prophet Song was inspired by the Syrian war and refugee crisis.
Reacting to his win on stage at the award ceremony in Old Billingsgate, London, Lynch said, “it is with immense pleasure that he was taking the Booker back to Ireland.”
The author, who was born in Limerick and now lives in Dublin, added that the novel was “not an easy book to write”.
The book is Lynch’s fifth and he spent four years working on it. He started writing it just before his son was born and, by the time he finished, his boy was able to ride a bike. While, Lynch is the fifth Irish author to win the Booker Prize, after Iris Murdoch, John Banville, Roddy Doyle and Anne Enright. The Northern Irish writer Anna Burns won in 2018. Lynch was one of four Irish writers to make this year’s longlist.
“Lynch’s dystopian Ireland reflects the reality of war-torn countries, where refugees take to the sea to escape persecution on land,” wrote Aimée Walsh in an Observer review. “Prophet Song echoes the violence in Palestine, Ukraine and Syria, and the experience of all those who flee from war-torn countries.”
The other nominees for the Booker Prize 2023 were:
- The Bee Sting by Paul Murray
- Western Lane by Chetna Maroo
- This Other Eden by Paul Harding
- If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery
- Study for Obedience by Sarah Bernstein
All the nominees will receive £2,500 as cash prize.
Those previous winning authors include Margaret Atwood, Hilary Mantel, Bernardine Evaristo and Salman Rushdie.
The Booker Prize is the UK’s most prestigious literary award offered annually for the best work of long-form fiction, selected from entries published in the UK and Ireland.