Paul Lynch Wins Booker Prize for ‘Prophet Song’


“Prophet Song,” which Grove Atlantic will publish in North America on Dec. 5, a week earlier than originally planned, beat five other shortlisted titles including Paul Murray’s “The Bee Sting,” Chetna Maroo’s “Western Lane” and Paul Harding’s “This Other Eden.” The other shortlisted novels were Jonathan Escoffery’s “If I Survive You,” and Sarah Bernstein’s “Study for Obedience.”

The Booker, which comes with a cash prize of £50,000, or roughly $63,000, is awarded annually to the best novel written in English, and published in Britain or Ireland. Founded in 1969, previous winners include such literary giants as Hilary Mantel, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood, although the prize is also known for helping create stars. Last year, Shehan Karunatilaka, a Sri Lankan novelist, won for “The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida,” a novel examining the trauma of his country’s civil war.

Lynch, 46, a former movie critic, made his literary debut in 2013 with “Red Sky in Morning,” set in the 19th century, about an Irishman who flees to America after killing a man. His other novels include “Beyond the Sea,” about two men stranded offshore, and “Grace,” set during an Irish famine. Katherine Grant, reviewing that book in The New York Times, joked that “it’s not difficult to tell the difference between Paul Lynch’s writing and a ray of sunshine.” Lynch had “an undiminished appetite for the depiction of suffering,” she added.

“Prophet Song” is set in a near future and centers on Eilish Stack, a scientist and mother of four, whose trade unionist husband is taken by the security forces, an early sign of growing authoritarian rule that eventually sees Ireland in the midst of a civil war.



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