NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 16, 2013

Eleanor Catton wins fiction's Booker Prize

LONDON — Youth and heft triumphed at Britain’s Booker Prize yesterday, as 28-year-old New Zealander Eleanor Catton won the fiction award for “The Luminaries,” an ambitious 832-page murder mystery set during a 19th-century gold rush.

The choice should give heart to young authors of oversized tales. Catton is the youngest writer and only the second New Zealander to win the prestigious award — and her epic novel is easily the longest Booker champion.

Catton said after accepting the award that she didn’t think about the length of the book while she was writing it, “partly because I was inside it for the whole time.”

“It wasn’t until I received the proof of the book that I thought, ‘Jeepers, this is actually quite heavy,’” she said. “I’ve had to buy a new handbag, because my old handbag wasn’t big enough to hold my book.”

She thanked her British publisher, Granta, for protecting her from feeling the commercial pressures around a tome that could be seen as “a publisher’s nightmare.”

Travel writer Robert Macfarlane, who chaired the judging panel, called “The Luminaries” ‘‘dazzling,” ‘‘luminous” and “vast without being sprawling.”

“It is beautifully intricate without being fussy,” Macfarlane said. “It is experimental ... but does not by any means neglect the traditional virtues of storytelling.”

Catton had been bookmakers’ joint favorite among the six prize finalists, alongside British novelist Jim Crace, for his rural parable “The Harvest.” She also beat Ireland’s Colm Toibin, Indian-American writer Jhumpa Lahiri, Zimbabwe’s NoViolet Bulawayo and Canada’s Ruth Ozeki.

Catton received her trophy, which comes with a 50,000 pound ($80,000) check, from Prince Charles’ wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, during a dinner ceremony at London’s medieval Guildhall.

“The Luminaries” centers on a man named Walter Moody who comes to a New Zealand prospecting town in 1866 and finds himself immersed in a web of saloons, seances and skullduggery.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Port Pics
AP Video
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp
Special Features