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Prophet Song

2023 Booker Prize

Paul Lynch



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30 April 2024
'Paul Lynch is peerless' Donal Ryan, author of Strange Flowers

An Irish Times 'Book to Look Forward to in 2023'

A fearless portrait of a society on the brink as a mother faces a terrible choice, from an internationally award-winning author

On a dark, wet evening in Dublin, scientist and mother-of-four Eilish Stack answers her front door to find the GNSB on her step. Two officers from Ireland’s newly formed secret police are here to interrogate her husband, a trade unionist. 

Ireland is falling apart. The country is in the grip of a government turning towards tyranny and Eilish can only watch helplessly as the world she knew disappears. When first her husband and then her eldest son vanish, Eilish finds herself caught within the nightmare logic of a collapsing society.

How far will she go to save her family? And what – or who – is she willing to leave behind?

Exhilarating, terrifying and propulsive, Prophet Song is a work of breathtaking originality, offering a devastating vision of a country at war and a deeply human portrait of a mother’s fight to hold her family together.
Imprint:   Bloomsbury
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 23mm
ISBN:   9780861545896
ISBN 10:   0861545893
Pages:   320
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Paul Lynch is the award-winning author of the novels Beyond the Sea, Grace, The Black Snow and Red Sky in Morning. He has won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year and France’s Prix Libr’à Nous for Best Foreign Novel, among other prizes. His books have been shortlisted for numerous international awards, including France’s Prix Jean Monnet for European Literature, Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger, Prix Littérature Monde and the Walter Scott Prize. He lives in Dublin.

Reviews for Prophet Song (2023 Booker Prize)

"'If there was ever a crucial book for our current times, it's Paul Lynch's Prophet Song... A literary manifesto for those in need, and a brilliantly haunting novel.' -- Observer 'Readers will find it timely and unforgettable... A remarkable accomplishment.' -- Booker Prize judges 'There are moments of beauty in Prophet Song… and there are some brilliantly fast-paced scenes.' -- The Sunday Times 'I haven't read a book that has shaken me so intensely in many years... The comparisons are inevitable – Saramago, Orwell, McCarthy – but this novel will stand entirely on its own.' -- Colum McCann, author of Apeirogon 'Surely one of the most important novels of this decade.' -- Ron Rash, author of Serena 'Monumental... You remember why fiction matters. It's hard to recall a more powerful novel in recent years.' -- Samantha Harvey, author of The Western Wind 'The work of a master novelist, Prophet Song is a stunning, midnight vision whose themes are at once ancient and all too timely: fear, complicity, resistance, and what becomes of us when hell rises to our homeland.' -- Rob Doyle, author of Threshold 'It was gripping and chilling, and terribly prescient - a novel with a darkly important message about this particular moment in time.'   -- Sara Baume, author of Spill Simmer Falter Wither 'Nightmarish yet horribly convincing... Powerful, claustrophobic and horribly real. From its opening pages it exerts a grim kind of grip... Lynch's depiction of Eilish is nuanced and sympathetic, and in the fiercely embodied quality of her love for her children, entirely successful.' -- Guardian 'The fifth novel from one of the most acclaimed Irish writers of his generation… As an adventure story-cum-political warning, it’s being touted as ""Ireland’s 1984"".' -- Telegraph 'Part cautionary-tale; part dystopian-nightmare; part fever dream. Whichever way you skin it, there is no denying the gathering power of Paul Lynch's writing. This is at once fearless and affecting prose with a ticking clock inevitability and a clanging bell pay-off. Both urgent jolt and slow furnace, Prophet Song takes you to the edge of the chasm and insists that you look down. A masterclass in terror and dread.' -- Alan McMonagle, author of Ithaca 'Paul Lynch is a writer of great vision and power and Prophet Song is his best novel yet.' -- Laird Hunt, author of Zorrie 'Dublin’s Paul Lynch has been a lynchpin of the Republic’s internationally celebrated output for over 10 years, his profound investigations of place, identity, religion, and memory consistently compared to names as awesome as Dostoevsky, Heaney, Nabokov and Emily Dickinson.   In his typically lyrical, lulling style, Lynch pulls off a masterstroke here, setting his futuristic story, of a nation made fearful and suspicious by their tyrannical government’s surveillance, in the most familiar of settings, his home country. The chill, so close to home, is blood curdling.'  -- The Big Issue 'A profoundly human story that brings to life the horror of living in a modern war zone. Deft, subtle and written in strikingly beautiful prose, with this stunning novel Paul Lynch has joined the ranks of Atwood, Orwell and Burgess.' -- Christine Dwyer Hickey, author of The Narrow Land 'A mesmerising, shattering novel, Prophet Song lives and breathes on the page and lingers long after finishing it. A paen to maternal love amidst gathering forces of darkness, Paul Lynch has done something extraordinary here. I felt as though I were experiencing the disassembling and terrifying restructuring of Eilish's world and am forever altered having entered it. The dream-like sensibility of the prose offsets the startling brutality of Eilish's plight. It is a work of wonder.' -- Lisa Harding, author of Bright Burning Things 'Eilish is a wonderful creation… Lynch does an excellent job of showing just how swiftly – and plausibly – a society like ours could collapse. Certain sequences read like a thriller – readers will find themselves literally holding their breath – while others are rendered in beautiful, lyrical prose.' -- Irish Independent 'A dystopian vision of the decline of democracy in Ireland.' -- Washington Post 'Fearless' -- Belfast Telegraph 'A book of encroaching terror… Lynch's language is darkly lyrical, rich… This is powerfully sustained.' -- Sunday Telegraph 'I don't know when I last read a book that left me as shaken and disturbed as Paul Lynch's fifth novel. It is a tremendous achievement... This is one of the most important novels of 2023. Paul Lynch is a fearless writer – unafraid of taking on large themes and tackling them face to face.'  -- Irish Examiner 'While much of the book’s sinister power lies in how Lynch hints at the steps by which democracy gives way to totalitarianism, its real energy comes from how he portrays the continuing everyday pressure of Eilish's obligations to her children and frail father amid the deepening turmoil… [A] provocative thought experiment.' -- Daily Mail 'Lynch renders this almost-Ireland in fluid, poetic prose, moulding sentences as if they were made of plasticine. It's no surprise that since his debut he has been compared with the American writer Cormac McCarthy.' -- The Sunday Times (Ireland) 'Gripping, brilliantly realised... A masterly novel that reminds us that democracy is always fragile.' -- Literary Review 'Melodious… Absorbing. There are strong meditations on what home means in a world in perpetual crisis and how we disassociate ourselves from other people’s catastrophes.' -- i 'Lynch's writing bristles with tension… While Lynch's novel is a laudable addition to a genre that serves as a warning about how easy it is to lose the freedoms we take for granted, perhaps its greatest achievement is that at no point do the events depicted feel too improbable to be realistic… Prophet Song is entirely original.' -- Sunday Independent (Dublin) 'As Eilish's world begins to disintegrate around her, under the pressure of competing ideology and suspicion, the tension ratchets up almost unbearably… Lynch builds us a new world, and then pulls it apart with immense skill.' -- ABC News, 'Best New Releases in August'"

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