Congratulations to Eleanor Catton, who won the last non-worldwide Man Booker Prize last night for her second novel The Luminaries.
Some words of praise from the judging panel:
“The chair of judges Robert Macfarlane described the book as a “dazzling work, luminous, vast”. It is, he said, “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”. Each of its 12 chapters halves in length which gives the narrative a sense of acceleration. It is not, however, an extended exercise in literary form. Macfarlane and his fellow judges were impressed by Catton’s technique but it was her “extraordinarily gripping” narrative that enthralled them. “We read it three times and each time we dug into it the yields were extraordinary, its dividends astronomical.” The Luminaries is, said Macfarlane, a novel with heart.”
Read the entire announcement here.
About The Luminaries:
“On a blustery January day, a prostitute is arrested. In the midst of the 1866 gold rush on the coast of New Zealand, this might have gone unnoticed. But three notable events occur on that same day: a luckless drunk dies, a wealthy man vanishes, and a trafficker of ill repute cancels all of his business and weighs anchor, as if making an escape. Anna Wetherell, the prostitute in question, is connected to all three men.
This sequence of apparently coincidental events provokes the powerful town rulers to form a secret council to investigate what they believe is a conspiracy to murder. But their clandestine meeting is interrupted by the arrival of a stranger: young Walter Moody has come to seek his fortune on the goldfields, and he, it turns out, has a secret of his own…
Both epic and intimate, The Luminaries is an astonishing feat of storytelling, an intricately crafted novel that takes readers behind the scenes of a mystery to reveal how destiny is reshaped when circumstances shift, but everything remains connected.”
An ebook version of The Luminaries is available here. Eleanor Catton’s previous novel is The Rehearsal (ebook here). The 2013 Man Booker shortlist can be found here, and the longlist here.