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Eleanor Catton youngest ever Man Booker Prize winner

The Luminaries

Story by Jack Foley

ELEANOR Catton has become the youngest ever winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for her novel The Luminaries.

The New Zealand author, aged 28, won for her 832-page tale of the 19th Century goldfields.

The book is also the longest work to win in the prize’s 45-year history.

Robert Macfarlane, chair of the judges, described the book as “a dazzling work”, adding that it was “luminous”. “It is vast without being sprawling,” he added.

A Victorian mystery tale set during the New Zealand gold rush, The Luminaries is intricately structured according to astrological charts, with each section exactly half the length of its predecessor.

It has been dubbed by some critics as the “Kiwi Twin Peaks“.

The winner was announced on Tuesday night (October 15, 2013) at London’s Guildhall, and was presented this year by the Duchess of Cornwall.

Upon picking up the accolade, Catton admitted that her book had been “a publisher’s nightmare”.

The other authors on the shortlist were NoViolet Bulawayo, for We Need New Names; Jim Crace, for Harvest; Jhumpa Lahiri, for The Lowland; Ruth Ozeki, for A Tale for the Time Being, and Colm Toibin, for The Testament of Mary.

Canadian-born Catton was raised in New Zealand and is the second writer from that country to win the prize. The first was Keri Hulme in 1985 with The Bone People, which remains her first and only novel.

Catton’s own debut novel The Rehearsal (2008) was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize, and longlisted for the Orange Prize.

She began writing The Luminaries at the age of 25 and completed it when she was 27. She turned 28 last month.