Grove Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

Prophet Song

by Paul Lynch

New York Times Editors’ Choice

A terrifying, suspenseful vision of an Ireland careening towards authoritarianism

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 320
  • Publication Date December 05, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6301-1
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $26.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 320
  • Publication Date November 05, 2024
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6352-3
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $18.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date December 05, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6302-8
  • US List Price $26.00

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

Ireland is falling apart, caught in the grip of a government turning towards tyranny. As the life she knows and the ones she loves disappear before her eyes, Eilish must contend with the dystopian logic of her new, unraveling country. How far will she go to save her family? And what—or who—is she willing to leave behind?

The winner of the Booker Prize 2023, Prophet Song presents a terrifying and shocking vision of a country sliding into authoritarianism and a deeply human portrait of a mother’s fight to hold her family together.

Tags Literary

Praise for Prophet Song:

A New York Times Editors’ Choice
An NPR, Guardian, Globe & Mail, and Tertulia Best Book of the Year 
A Biggest Book of Fall from The Guardian
An Amazon Top 10 Book of December

“A prophetic masterpiece.”—Washington Post

“Many, many lines and passages of great beauty and power . . . Lynch is extraordinarily good at the bureaucratic intricacies of the descent into chaos . . . Prophet Song is less interested in ‘Could it happen here?’ than in the follow-up ‘Would you know when to leave?”—New York Times

“[A] beautifully written, ingenious, holy terror of a novel.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A triumph of emotional storytelling, bracing and brave . . . Readers will find it soul-shattering and true, and will not soon forget its warnings.”—Esi Edugyan, Chair of the Booker Prize 2023 Judges

“Gripping . . . As Eilish’s circumstances deteriorate, Lynch’s dense, lyrical prose barrels down on you relentlessly. As you read, you feel precious time slipping away, the inexorable future rushing toward you. He eschews quotation marks and paragraph breaks, and the result is a chaotic, disorienting whirlwind that amplifies the furious action of the narrative and plants you firmly in Eilish’s weary, fractured mind.”—Boston Globe

“If there was ever a crucial book for our current times, it’s Paul Lynch’s Prophet Song . . . A brilliant, haunting novel.”Guardian (UK)

“An exceptionally gifted writer, Lynch brings a compelling lyricism to [Eilish’s] fears and despair while he marshals the details marking the collapse of democracy and the norms of daily life. His tonal control, psychological acuity, empathy, and bleakness recall Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (2006) . . . Captivating, frightening, and a singular achievement.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A disquieting novel from an exceptional writer.”—Shelf Awareness (starred review)

“Irish writer Lynch (Beyond the Sea, 2020) conveys the creeping horror of a fascist catastrophe in a gorgeous and relentless stream of consciousness illuminating the terrible vulnerability of our loved ones, our daily lives, and social coherence. Eilish muses over the fragility of the body, its rhythms and flows, diseases and defenses. The body politic is just as assailable. A Booker Prize finalist, Lynch’s hypnotic and crushing novel tracks the malignant decimation of an open society, a bleak and tragic process we enact and suffer from over and over again.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Lynch’s dystopian novel is at once so particularly Irish yet so universally familiar that it deserves the overused modifier ‘Kafkaesque.’”—Los Angeles Times, 10 Books to Read in December

“Harrowing . . . The lesson for readers is not necessarily to wake up to signs of totalitarianism knocking at our doors, but to empathize with those for whom it has already called.”—NPR

“Thunderously powerful.”—Times Literary Supplement

“Deeply harrowing . . . An extraordinary achievement.”—Highbrow Magazine

“As nightmarish a story as you’ll come across: powerful, claustrophobic and horribly real. From its opening pages it exerts a grim kind of grip; even when approached cautiously and read in short bursts it somehow lingers, its world leaking out from its pages like black ink into clear water.”—Guardian, Book of the Day

“A masterclass in empathy, offering a bird’s eye view of the steady crushing of one’s ability to live somewhere safely, the dismantling of ordinary life by tyranny. I hope everyone reads this.”—Suzanne Harrington, The Irish Examiner

“Utterly believable . . . compassionate, propulsive and timely.”Financial Times (UK)

“Chillingly plausible.”Irish Times

“A tremendous achievement.”Irish Examiner

“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 . . . A devastating portrait.”Independent (IE)

“In his typically lyrical, lulling style, Lynch pulls off a masterstroke.”Big Issue

“A book of encroaching terror… Darkly lyrical, rich . . . affecting”Telegraph (UK)

“Timely and unforgettable . . . It’s a remarkable accomplishment for a novelist to capture the social and political anxieties of our moment so compellingly.”—The Booker Prize 2023 judges

“Stunning in every sense of the word . . . In masterfully controlled and powerful prose, [Lynch] yanks the reader headlong into the experience of living in a country that is taken over by an authoritarian government — slowly, slowly, and then suddenly and completely . . . Prophet Song is a brilliant, disturbing reality check. Lynch insists that we understand ‘the end of the world is always a local event.’”—Tampa Bay Times

Prophet Song is . . . a horror story, with the new political order serving as the monster now inside the house . . . This is not a book that presents political oppression as an intellectual problem to be anticipated or solved. It aims for the limbic system, and it does not miss.”—Los Angeles Times

“Astonishing  . . . A harrowing must-read.”—Center for Fiction

“A speedboat of a novel that hurtles the reader through ever-heightening waves toward a dark shore, a stark vision of total societal breakdown . . . Lynch understands that totalitarianism doesn’t simply storm into power; all too often it creeps in.”—BookBrowse

“A disquieting novel from an exceptional writer.”—Crossville Chronicle

“As illuminating and haunting as any real-life history of descent into authoritarianism.”—The Week

“Lynch’s novel is full of dread, but it’s neither hopeless nor nihilistic. For in focusing the novel on the commitment of a dedicated mother, he invites the reader to dwell in the path of the propulsive wonder of love, an experience that is, in its finest moments, downright awe-inspiring.”—World

“In this chilling, Booker Prize-winning novel, author Paul Lynch takes us inside the slowly-unfolding nightmare that is his protagonist Eilish’s mind . . . The personal and public atrocities mount up and we readers see them happen as Eilish does and we cannot look away or un-see them . . . A great novel, well deserving of the praise and awards.”—Enchanted Circle

“A superb novel . . . one of the best I’ve read in years.”Deadly Pleasures

“A novel that allows darkness a corporeal form—something that breaches thresholds and follows.”—The Wire

“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

“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