The destruction of democracy and the attack of fascism: the 2023 Booker Prize was awarded for a dystopia that is increasingly closer to our reality
The 2023 Booker Prize was awarded to Irish writer Paul Lynch for his dystopian novel Prophet Song, which describes an Ireland under a totalitarian regime, reports with the BBC.
The novel, set in Dublin, centers on the story of Eilish Stack, an explorer and mother of four, who is trying to save her family in the face of the “new world” and the impending fascism that is destroying established democratic norms.
As the writer himself said in an interview on the eve of the award, Ireland’s plunge into the abyss of totalitarianism is “already happening.”
“This novel simulates events that have already happened in the past, that are happening now and will happen in the future,” he noted, saying that his task was to listen to what was happening and draw informed conclusions.
Lynch also talked about how he literally “lived” some scenes from his novel, trying them on himself, and how then these scenes were almost exactly repeated in real life during the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown.
“It was very strange, because in the book there is a description of how the state begins to take control of everything, how a curfew is introduced. All this was already written when I suddenly experienced it all myself,” he said.
When asked what he thought about the recent outbreak of violence in Dublin, Lynch admitted that he was shocked by what happened and that "this should be a warning to us." At the same time, he emphasized that he does not write “political novels.”
Paul Lynch, who wrote the novel under the influence of the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis, said at the awards ceremony in London that he would take the Booker home to Ireland with “great pleasure,” but admitted that he never believed in victory.
“It’s interesting because you never really believe in victory, your brain rejects the thought. But everyone I know told me, 'Look, you're definitely going to be the winner this time because the timing is incredible,'" Lynch said. — I started to feel a little unsteady 15 minutes before the winner was announced, I went outside, Sir Ben Okri (famous British writer of Nigerian origin, Booker Prize winner) found me there, said a few encouraging words to me, I came back, and that’s when everything and it happened."
Money to pay off the mortgage
Paul Lynch was born in 1977 in Limerick in the southwest of Ireland. He now lives in Dublin.
Lynch began his writing career in 2013, and before that he was a film critic for the Sunday Tribune and the Sunday Times.
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Lynch's debut novel, Red Sky in Morning, was inspired by a television documentary about excavations near Philadelphia where the remains of XNUMXth-century Irish immigrants were discovered in a mass grave. Several London publishing houses competed for the right to publish this novel.
It received acclaim in the United States and France, where the book was a finalist for the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger (for "Best Foreign Book").
Lynch's second novel, The Black Snow, is about the return of an Irish emigrant to his community in Donegal. It has been shortlisted for many awards and won the French Prix Libr'à Nous for best foreign novel. Two more of his novels, Grace and Beyond the Sea, were published in 2017 and 2019.
“Song of the Prophet” is already his fifth novel. He started working on it shortly before his son was born, and finished it when he had already learned to ride a bicycle. By Lynch's own admission, the book was not easy for him.
But, as the Booker Prize website says, the novel was “a triumph of emotional storytelling, invigorating and courageous. With great vividness, The Song of the Prophet reflects the social and political anxieties of today. Readers will find it moving and true, and will not soon forget the warnings it contains.”
The Booker Prize winner receives about $65 as a prize, and Lynch admitted that he will likely use the money to pay off his mortgage.
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The remaining authors whose works are included in the shortlist receive checks for $3 sterling and the right to reprint the nominated novel in Booker format.
This year, these authors included:
- "The Bee Sting" by Paul Murray.
- Western Lane, Chetna Maru.
- This Other Eden, Paul Harding.
- "If I Survive You" by Jonathan Escoffer.
- Study for Obedience, Sarah Bernstein.
The Booker Prize is rightfully considered one of the most prestigious literary awards for writers who write in English.
Among the most famous laureates are writers such as Margaret Atwood, Anna Burns, Bernardine Evaristo and Salman Rushdie.
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