By Maria Bregman
Paul Lynch is not a typical novelist. He does not write to entertain, to please, or to sell. He writes to reveal, to challenge, and to transcend. He writes like a prophet.
His latest novel, The Prophet Song, is a testament to his visionary power. It tells the story of a man who survives a shipwreck and wanders across a post-apocalyptic America, haunted by visions and voices. It is a book that defies genre, blending elements of science fiction, western, and biblical epic. It is a book that demands attention, not only for its literary merit, but also for its timely message.
Lynch, who was born and raised in Ireland, has been longlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize, one of the most coveted awards in the literary world. He is among the 13 authors who have been selected from a pool of 158 submissions, representing the best of contemporary fiction in English. The winner will be announced on November 3, 2023.
Lynch is no stranger to accolades. His previous novels, Red Sky in Morning, The Black Snow, and Grace, have been widely praised by critics and readers alike. He has been compared to Cormac McCarthy, William Faulkner, and James Joyce, among others. He has won several awards, including the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, the French booksellers’ prize Prix Libr’à Nous, and the American Library Association’s Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.
But Lynch is not interested in fame or fortune. He is interested in truth. He is interested in the human condition. He is interested in the role of literature in the contemporary world.
In an interview with CNN, he said: “I think literature has a responsibility to be a witness to its time, to be a mirror to its time, but also to be a challenge to its time. Literature should not be comfortable. Literature should not be easy. Literature should be something that makes you think, that makes you question, that makes you wonder.”
He also said: “I think literature has a prophetic function. I think literature can see things that are not yet visible, that are not yet manifest, that are not yet obvious. Literature can anticipate things, can warn us of things, can prepare us for things.”
Lynch’s prophetic vision is evident in his novel, which explores themes such as climate change, migration, violence, religion, and identity. He said: “I think these are the themes that are defining our time, that are shaping our time, that are challenging our time. I think these are the themes that we need to confront, that we need to understand, that we need to deal with.”
He added: “I think literature can help us do that. I think literature can help us see things differently, see things more clearly, see things more deeply. I think literature can help us connect with ourselves, with each other, with the world. I think literature can help us heal, can help us grow, can help us change.”
Lynch is not only a prophet, but also a poet. His prose is lyrical, musical, and rhythmic. He said: “I think language is the most powerful tool we have. I think language can create, can destroy, can transform. I think language can shape reality, can express reality, can transcend reality. I think language is the essence of literature, the essence of art, the essence of life.”
He also said: “I think language is a gift, a gift that we have to cherish, to respect, to use wisely. I think language is a responsibility, a responsibility that we have to honor, to fulfill, to share. I think language is a mystery, a mystery that we have to explore, to discover, to reveal.”
Lynch is a rare talent, a writer who writes like a prophet, a poet, and a visionary. He is a writer who deserves recognition, not only for his novel, but also for his contribution to literature and to humanity. He is a writer who deserves the Booker Prize.