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Prophet Song – Paul Lynch

Prophet Song – Paul Lynch

As you all know, this won the Booker prize in 2023. I am a bit hit and miss with the Booker, some years I love it (Possession) and other years not so much (The Sea). However, I decided I would try listening to this one.

Here’s the blurb …

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.

I had heard that it was violent (hence my trepidation) and there is one terrible scene where you see the results of awful violence, but I wouldn’t describe this novel as violent. Menacing, tense and very sad. And a story for our times (given the rise of right-wing governments).

It is beautifully written. We see it from Eilish’s perspective and she is worried about school, and food, keeping her children safe, looking after her dad who is deteriorating with dementia, finding where her husband has been detained, meanwhile everything around her is falling apart. Her sister, in Canada, wants her to leave and sends resources, but she can’t leave while both her husband and son are missing. Her sister says something like ‘history is full of people who waited to long to leave’.

A review

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Filed under 5, Fiction, Recommended, Serious