Paul Lynch, author of "Prophet Song," poses with the 2023 Booker Prize following the Winner Ceremony at Old Billingsgate in London on Sunday. The Booker Prize is a literary award conferred each year for the best novel written in the English language, which was published in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Photo by David Cliff/EPA-EFE
Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Irish writer Paul Lynch has won this year's Booker Prize for his dystopian novel "Prophet Song," a fictional account of tyranny and war described as "soul-shattering."
Lynch, 46, beat out five other finalists from Ireland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada during Sunday's awards ceremony in London where he won the award and a $63,000 prize. The final six books in the running were selected from 163 books published between Oct. 1, 2022 and Sept, 30.
"We're delighted to announce that the winner of the Booker Prize 2023 is "Prophet Song" by Paul Lynch," the Booker Prizes posted on X, formerly Twitter. "Huge congratulations."
"Prophet Song," which is Lynch's fifth novel, is a fictional account of a woman's struggle to protect her family as Ireland collapses into totalitarianism and war.
"From that first knock at the door, 'Prophet Song' forces us out of our complacency as we follow the terrifying plight of a woman seeking to protect her family in an Ireland descending into totalitarianism," said Esi Edugyan, chair of the Booker's 2023 judges. "Readers will find it soul-shattering and true, and will not soon forget its warnings."
"Lynch pulls off feats of language that are stunning to witness," Edugyan added. "He has the heart of a poet, using repetition and recurring motifs to create a visceral reading experience. This is a triumph of emotional storytelling, bracing and brave."
The Booker Prize is a leading literary award that is handed out each year to the "best sustained work of fiction written in English and published in the U.K. and Ireland," the Booker Prizes website states. "It is a prize that transforms the winner's career."
"I was trying to see into the modern chaos," Lynch said in an interview with the judges. "The unrest in Western democracies. The problem of Syria -- the implosion of an entire nation, the scale of its refugee crisis and the West's indifference. The invasion of Ukraine had not even begun. I couldn't write directly about Syria so I brought the problem to Ireland as a simulation."
Lynch said "Prophet Song" ultimately became his partial "attempt at radical empathy."
"To understand better, we must first experience the problem for ourselves. So I sought to deepen the dystopian by bringing to it a high degree of realism," Lynch said. "I wanted to deepen the reader's immersion to such a degree that by the end of the book, they would not just know, but feel this problem for themselves."