Booker Prize 2023: Irish author Paul Lynch wins annual award for dystopian novel 'Prophet Song'

The annual Booker Prize ceremony took place in Old Billingsgate, London last night

Paul Lynch was awarded the 2023 Boke Prize for his novel 'Prophet Song'. (Credit: Getty ImagesPaul Lynch was awarded the 2023 Boke Prize for his novel 'Prophet Song'. (Credit: Getty Images
Paul Lynch was awarded the 2023 Boke Prize for his novel 'Prophet Song'. (Credit: Getty Images

Irish author Paul Lynch has won the 2023 Booker Prize award for his novel 'Prophet Song'.

The annual ceremony took place in Old Billingsgate, London last night (Sunday November 26). Lynch was up against a number of acclaimed authors, including Paul Murray, Chetna Maroo, Paul Harding, Jonathan Escoffery and Sarah Bernstein.

Lynch, 46, said upon accepting the award: “Well, there goes my hard-won anonymity. This was not an easy book to write. The rational part of me believed I was dooming my career by writing this novel. Though I had to write the book anyway. We do not have a choice in such matters.”

'Prophet Song' follows the story of a mother-of-four who is working as a scientist when her husband is taken away by a newly formed Irish secret police, in a story about life under an oppressive tyrannical government. Lynch, who said that he was “distinctly not a political novelist”, said that he was inspired by the Syrian war and the refugee crisis.

The author, who is the fifth Irish author to win the prize after  Dame Iris Murdoch, John Banville, Roddy Doyle and Anne Enright, also thanked "all the children of this world who need our protection, yet have lived, and continue to live through the terrors depicted in this book".

He added: “Thank you for opening our eyes to innocence. So that we may know the world again as though for the first time. It is with immense pleasure that I bring the Booker home to Ireland.”

Lynch was awarded £50,000 for his work, as well as the being presented with Booker Prize statue. He was presented with the award by last year's winner Shehan Karunatilaka.

Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan, chairwoman of the 2023 judges, described 'Prophet Song as "a triumph of emotional storytelling", adding: “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 warnings.”

Lynch, who lives in Dublin, was also quizzed following the win on the shocking riots which took place in the Irish capital last week. He said: “Like everybody else, I was astonished by it.

“And at the same time, I recognise the truth that this kind of energy is always there under the surface and, 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 in this book are occurring timelessly throughout the ages."

He added: “And maybe we need to deepen our own responses to that kind of idea. But at the same time, what was happening in Dublin? Well, you know, we can see it as a warning, I think we should see it was a warning.”

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.