Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Harding’s novel “This Other Eden,” which was inspired by the sad history of Maine’s Malaga Island, fell short again Sunday night in an effort to win the prestigious Booker Prize.

Six books were selected in September to compete for the Booker Prize. The winner, “Prophet Song,” by Paul Lynch, was announced Sunday evening during a livestreamed awards ceremony at Old Billingsgate in London.

Harding, 56, lives on Long Island, New York. Harding’s book was also nominated for the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction. But he lost to Justin Torres’ book “Blackouts” earlier this month.

“This Other Eden” by Paul Harding. W. W. Norton/Mariner Books/W. W. Norton via AP

“This Other Eden” is based on the shameful history of how Maine forcibly removed all residents of a mixed-race fishing community on a small island off the coast of Phippsburg in 1912, a time when racist beliefs about genetics were shaping policy in the United States.

Malaga is a 42-acre island in the New Meadows River, just off Phippsburg’s western shore. Artifacts, documents and photographs indicate it was home to a fairly ordinary coastal settlement, except for the fact that Black, white and mixed-race families all lived and worked together. The island’s residents eked out a living by fishing the tides in the New Meadows River and doing whatever work they could find on the mainland.

In 1912, the state ordered its 47 residents to leave the island and to take their homes with them, or they would be burned. Maine Gov. Frederick Plaisted oversaw the destruction of the year-round fishing hamlet.

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