Man Booker Prize 2013: The Winner – Eleanor Catton for The Luminaries

the luminaries Eleanor Catton, a 28-year-old, Canadian-born New Zealander has won the 2013 Booker Prize for her novel, The Luminaries, her second novel.

A traveler, Walter Moody, comes to a New Zealand prospecting town in 1866 and gets drawn into all sorts of shenanigans with 12 other men. There are all the elements of Victorian thrillers: drugs, sex, lawsuits, seances, murder, suicide, mystery and, those age-old undoings of all ambitious endeavors – love and money.

If you’re a regular reader of this site, you will know that we’ve been following the Booker Prize this year. It’s been an interesting longlist and shortlist this year – with the latter having the most novels with immigration-related themes in Booker history.

This year’s Booker awards season has also not been without controversy. The Committee announced that, starting in 2014, they will be open to writers from ALL countries, including the US. This has been debated hotly with many former Booker-winning authors like A S Byatt and Julian Barnes expressing their concerns that the inclusion of the Americans will hurt British and Commonwealth writers. There is also a concern that books like Eleanor Catton’s winner this year will get buried under the bigger pile of submissions that the judges will have to sift through.

Still. This year’s winner marks at least a couple of firsts. Catton, at 28 years old, is now the youngest winner. Her book, at 832 pages, is also the longest one ever. So, here’s a links roundup in case you haven’t been able to keep up with the news.

Official Booker Announcement of the Winner

Interviews: Hard to find some recent and decent ones, but the best I’ve come across so far is this with The Guardian. There’s this by the New Zealand Herald as well.

Reviews: Quite a few of these, especially after she made the shortlist (in no particular order):

The Wall Street Journal

The Millions

The Guardian (video)

Excerpts: Odd that there isn’t one on her publisher’s site, but here are a couple:

The Telegraph UK

The Globe and Mail

First Novel: The Rehearsal came out to rave reviews when she was 25. She started it when she was a mere 22 years old.

Some Interesting Booker-related Links:

Stories Behind Booker Winner Choices Over the Years

Booker 2013 Awards Dinner – Welcome Speeches

Bookermania exhibition at the Morgan Library in New York

Let’s end with a quote from Catton, who, as the daughter of a philosopher and a librarian, was surely born to become a writer. This is her view on how the novel is a tool for thinking as well as feeling.

It is in my view a much better vehicle for philosophy than syllogisms and logical constructs. What I like about fiction most is that it resists closure and exists, if the reader is willing to engage, as a possible encounter – an encounter that is like meeting a human being.

[Note: A full review of the book is forthcoming – just as soon as I can get through all 832 pages of it.]

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