Paul Lynch has won the Booker Prize, the prestigious British literary award given annually to “the best sustained work of fiction written in English and published in the UK and Ireland,” for his novel Prophet Song.

Lynch’s novel, scheduled for publication in the U.S. next month by Atlantic Monthly Press, follows a scientist living in a dystopian, near-future version of Ireland; her husband is detained by the new government, and her eldest son is conscripted into the military. In a starred review, a critic for Kirkus called the book “captivating, frightening, and a singular achievement.”

The prize’s jury said of the book, “Readers will find it timely and unforgettable. It’s a remarkable accomplishment for a novelist to capture the social and political anxieties of our moment so compellingly.”

Lynch, the fifth Irish author to take home the award, was announced as the winner at a ceremony Sunday evening in London. He appeared stunned and emotional as his name was read by Esi Edugyan, the chair of the prize’s judging panel.

“There goes my hard-win anonymity,” Lynch said as he accepted the award. “This was not an easy book to write. The rational part of me believed I was dooming my career by writing this novel, though I had to write the book anyway. We do not have a choice in such matters.”

Lynch had been tipped as the winner by oddsmakers in the days before the prize.

The Booker Prize was established in 1969. Previous winners have included Salman Rushdie for Midnight’s Children, Kazuo Ishiguro for The Remains of the Day, George Saunders for Lincoln in the Bardo, and Anna Burns for Milkman.

Michael Schaub is a contributing writer.