Paul Lynch: From film critic to Booker Prize-winning author

Paul Lynch: From Film Critic To Booker Prize-Winning Author
Paul Lynch with his book Prophet Song, which won the 2023 Booker Prize. Photo: PA
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By Charlotte McLaughlin, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter

Paul Lynch has gone from being a film critic at Irish newspapers to a full-time novelist and now a Booker Prize-winning author.

The writer, who lives in Dublin, was honoured for his fifth novel, Prophet Song.


Born in Limerick in 1977, Lynch said he sees himself similar to other authors from Ireland as “global writers, rather than just Irish domestic audience writers”.

He has written for the Sunday Times about cinema as well as being the chief film critic of the Sunday Tribune from 2007 to 2011 before the Irish newspaper closed.

His first novel Red Sky In Morning was listed as a book of the year in the Irish Times, the Irish Independent and the Sunday Business Post as well as getting nods for French literary prizes such as Prix du Premier Roman and Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger.



The 2013 book is set in the bog lands of Donegal, an county that Lynch grew up in, and deals with a dark tale of oppression, a theme recurrent in his novels.

Lynch returned again to Donegal with the setting of The Black Snow, which deals with the death of an agriculture worker in 1945 and as his website states the subsequent “deepest certainties” this throws up about humankind.

He would go on to publish Grace in 2017, which saw him win the Kerry Group Irish novel of the year award, previously given to Booker Prize alumni Anne Enright, Roddy Doyle and John Banville.

Set during the Irish famine, the novel – which was also shortlisted for the Walter Scott prize – is about a young girl dressed in boy’s clothes who makes a journey accompanied by her brother across the country.


Lynch would follow this up with 2019’s Beyond The Sea, which focuses on South American fishermen that have to deal with a terrible storm that sees them adrift and grappling with a “fallen world”.

His last novel Prophet Song, published in August, is a tale of a tyrannical government and has been widely praised by critics.

Scientist Eilish Stack, a mother-of-four, has her husband taken away by the newly formed Irish secret police and the novel description says she is “forced to do whatever it takes to keep her family together”.


The Observer said it is “a brilliant, haunting novel that should be placed into the hands of policymakers everywhere”.

The Times said the book’s purpose is for “the furious reader” to become “determined to find a better ending for this story”.

He previously told an interview with the Booker Prize that he began writing the novel shortly after his son Elliot had been born and finished it four years later.

Lynch opened up to the PA news agency in September about a kidney cancer diagnosis.

A year before he was put on the shortlist for the Booker Prize, Lynch said he was on an “operating table” which has made him think less about the future – that could bring TV and film productions of his work from Booker success.

“I’ve just reached a place where I’m just happy with what comes along and thankful for everything and I have my health now and I hope that it lasts,” he said.

He said he has been “declared” cancer free, and is having a preventive immunotherapy treatment.

Lynch also said he was writing a new novel but had to put on pause due to the buzz surrounding him being on the Booker shortlist.

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