Catton makes man booker history… twice over!
16th Oct 2013
Eleanor Catton must have woken up more than a bit bemused this morning. Last night, she was announced the winner of the Man Booker Prize 2013 for her second novel, The Luminaries, and in the process, broke two Booker records. At the age of 28, the New Zealand-born novelist became the youngest recipient of the accolade to date.
In addition, its 832 pages eclipsed Mantel’s Wolf Hall for the title of the longest winning novel. That fact that Catton proved the bookies and practically all the lead-up news coverage wrong is just the cherry on the cake.
The Luminaries has received near unanimous praise for it astrologically-guided structure and style. The Luminaries has received near unanimous praise for it astrologically-guided structure and style. Robert Macfarlane, the chair of this year’s panel, affirmed that it is “a book you sometimes feel lost in, fearing it to be ‘a big baggy monster’, but it turns out to be as tightly structured as an orrery.”
Set in the midst of the 19th Century New Zealand gold rush, The Luminaries’ twelve narrators mirror the lunar cycle, each of their accounts half the length of its predecessor’s. As each man’s tale unfolds, the converging mysteries shrouding a man’s disappearance, a discovered fortune, a dead hermit and a death-bent whore, are slowly unearthed.
Macfarlane commended the dividends of reading Catton’s hefty offering, describing it as “a novel you pan, as if for gold, and the returns are huge.”
Catton equated her immediate feelings on hearing the judges’ verdict with hitting a “white wall”. Talking this morning on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she explained that she had never expected to win: “the whole business of literature isn’t a matter of being objectively better or worse than another book, so you kind of just hope that the judges will recognise that what you’re doing in your work is something unique to you.”
We are delighted to see the prize go to a woman two years in a row. Let us know your thoughts on the result in the comments below.