Prophet Song

Paul Lynch

Prophet Song
Oneworld Publications
United Kingdom
23 April 2024

Prophet Song

Paul Lynch

Winner of The Booker Prize 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.


‘History is a silent record of people who did not know when to leave.’

As the clouds of political change enshroud a modern Ireland, the newly powerful Nationalist Alliance Party (NAP) is enacting tighter and tighter authoritarian measures, infringing upon more civil liberties by the day. People are disappearing from their homes, their offices, the street. Scientist Eilish Stack is uncertain of the new regime’s severity until her unionist husband, Larry, vanishes from a teachers’ march.

Eilish must now manage her four children – teenagers that wish to do more, a child who doesn’t quite get it, and an infant, blissfully unaware – alongside her dementia-affected father, militant secret police, and an increasingly monitored workplace. Old friends are now divided along party lines: does your lapel glint with the badge of the party, or is your neck laced with white chiffon in rebellion?

It begins with the union, but suddenly it is a neighbour, a clerk, a schoolboy killed in the name of nationalism. When bodies return mangled with the causes of death supposedly benign, people begin to leave. Is that what is right for the Stacks? With a nation descending into war, Eilish must confront her own notions of morality, convention, and human rights in her own country.

Paul Lynch constructs a lyrical, devastating exploration of the political, social, and emotional fallout of an authoritarian takeover. Reminiscent of the poetry of Seamus Heaney and the prose of Cormac McCarthy, Lynch’s writing sustains a unique, enchanting narrative voice. Laced with confusion, corruption, and conflict, Prophet Song is a dystopian lament that exquisitely uses the iconic imagery of Ireland, along the lines of James Joyce, to create an atmospherically overwhelming novel, warning of the potential woes of a modern-day fascist purge.

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