The prestigious British literary prize Booker Prize was awarded to Irish author Paul Lynch for his dystopian novel “Prophet Song” at a ceremony Sunday evening in London. The novelist, who was selected for the first time, was rewarded for his fifth novel, a dark and distressing story of the life of a mother in an Ireland which is falling into tyranny.
“This book was not easy to write. Part of me thought I was going to jeopardize my career by writing it – but I still had to see it through,” Paul Lynch said after his victory, expressing his “tremendous pleasure in bringing the Booker back to Ireland “.
The Booker Prize, one of literary awards most prestigious in the world, which rewards works of fiction in English, has contributed to the success of writers like Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood or Arundhati Roy.
A reward of 50,000 pounds
All the novelists selected for this edition – two Americans, a Canadian, two Irish and a Kenyan – were part of the final selection for the first time.
The winner receives a reward of 50,000 pounds (around 57,000 euros) and the urance of international success.
Paul Lynch partly wrote “Prophet Song”, a novel with a claustrophobic atmosphere, with blocks of text running over entire pages, during the confinements of the Covid-19 pandemic. This writer born in Limerick in 1977 and who lives in Dublin had already written four novels, including the notable “Beyond The Sea” and “Grace”.
The finalist works of this edition brought “terrors, pleasures, joys and consolation” to the members of the jury, declared its president, the Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan. These novels “offer a full range of human experiences” and transport the reader “not only outside of reality, but also outside of the common language of everyday life,” she described.
A total of 158 books published in the United Kingdom or Ireland between October 1, 2022 and September 30, 2023 were submitted to the Booker Prize Foundation, and 13 of them were selected in a first round.
Among the other novels selected was Kenyan writer Chetna Maroo’s moving debut work “Western Lane”, the story of a teenage squash enthusiast who loses herself in the sport while grieving.
The tragicomic saga “The Bee Sting” by Irishman Paul Murray – the only one who had already been selected in the first round of the Booker Prize in 2010 – studies the influence of destiny in the economic and existential difficulties encountered by a family from Rural Ireland.
“If I Survive You” by American writer Jonathan Escoffery also tells the story of a family, Jamaican this time, who leaves Kingston in disaster and must rebuild their lives in Miami in the 1970s.
Paul Lynch succeeds Shehan Karunatilaka
The work of the second American in the running Paul Harding, “This Other Eden”, is inspired by historical events and relates the life of marginalized people on Apple Island, an enclave off the American coast, under the suspicious eye and constraint growing authorities.
The disturbing “Study for Obedience”, by Canadian Sarah Bernstein, is a questioning of power and guilt, around the story of a young woman who leaves her birthplace to take care of her brother, and triggers disturbing events.
Last year, Sri Lankan writer Shehan Karunatilaka, 47, won the Booker Prize for his novel “The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida”. This darkly humorous murder story takes place in the 1990s in the capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo, after the civil war that ravaged the country.