Literary award season has commenced, so it is time to add titles to our must-read list for the long winter months ahead. On October 15, Eleanor Catton was announced as the winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize for her fiction book, The Luminaries. Eleanor is the youngest winner in the prize’s history, as she completed the The Luminaries when she was 27 (started at the age of 25) and was 28 when she was awarded the Man Booker Prize! Catton is just the second New Zealander to win the prize.
A surprising fact: Catton was actually born in London, Ontario, while her father was completing his PhD at the University of Western Ontario. The CBC Books website notes that Catton’s family spent the first six years of Eleanor’s life in Canada before moving to New Zealand (when her father accepted a teaching position at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch). Eleanor currently lives in Auckland, where she teaches at the Manukau Institute of Technology.
The Bookseller website posted an interesting interview with Catton which addresses the book’s structure and length. This long book (832 pages), with an extraordinarily gripping narrative, dazzled the judges. The CBC Books website lists 5 facts about Catton, including the fact that her 2008 debut book, The Rehearsal, was adored by critics and received the Amazon.ca First Novel Award after it was published in Canada in 2010.
Here is the book summary outlined on the Man Booker website:
The Luminaries set in 1866 during the New Zealand gold rush, contains a group of 12 men gathered for a meeting in a hotel and a traveller who stumbles into their midst; the story involves a missing rich man, a dead hermit, a huge sum in gold, and a beaten-up whore. There are sex and seances, opium and lawsuits in the mystery too. The multiple voices take turns to tell their own stories and gradually what happened in the small town of Hokitika on New Zealand’s South Island is revealed.
The Man Booker prize winner receives £50,000 and, like all the shortlisted authors, a cheque for £2,500 and a designer bound copy of their book. The hope is that the winner and the shortlisted authors will now enjoy a dramatic increase in book sales worldwide and will reach the widest possible readership. According to the Man Booker website the prize was launched in 1969, and aims to promote the finest in fiction by rewarding the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.
Place a hold on The Luminaries today!