Eleanor Catton’s second novel, The Luminaries, was the clear winner of 2013’s Man Booker Prize, a double coup given the book is more than 800 pages long and New Zealander Catton is only 28 years old.
The Luminaries has dazzled reviewers and literary judges alike with its energy, imagination and sheer originality. A Victorian style murder mystery set in gold rush era New Zealand, its twelve chapters are organised according to the star signs of its characters, and range from 300 to only two pages in length.
‘A true achievement,’ wrote the New York Times. ‘Catton has built a lively parody of a 19th-century novel, and in doing so created a novel for the 21st, something utterly new.’
Eleanor Catton will speak to Louise Swinn about writing an epic novel and what it’s like to win the world’s most famed literary prize.
(Photo: Robert Catto)
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Eleanor Catton was born in 1985 in Canada and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand. She won the 2007 Sunday Star-Times short-story competition, the 2008 Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship to the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the 2008 Louis Johnson New Writers' Bursary and was named as one of Amazon’s Rising Stars in 2009.
Louise Swinn is a writer, publisher, critic, literary event chair and the editor of Choice Words: A Collection of Writing About Abortion (Allen and Unwin, 2019). Her work appears regularly in the Age, the Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald. She was one of the founders of Sleepers Publishing, the Small Press Network and the Stella Prize.