Eleanor Catton Is Youngest Winner of Man Booker With ‘Luminaries’ at 28; Catton is only the second New Zealander to win the award

Catton Is Youngest Winner of Man Booker With ‘Luminaries’

ELEANOR-CATTON

Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker Prize tonight with her second novel “The Luminaries.” At 28, she is the youngest author to claim the prize, and she does so with a book whose 832 pages make it the longest winner. Set during the New Zealand gold rush, Catton’s murder mystery overcame competition from the bookies’ favorite, Jim Crace’s “Harvest,” and four other finalists to capture the U.K.’s most prestigious literary award. She accepted the prize, which comes with 50,000 pounds ($80,000), at a black-tie dinner in London’s medieval Guildhall.

“It’s a dazzling book, it’s a luminous book, it is vast without being sprawling,” said the chairman of the judging panel, Robert Macfarlane, a writer and academic.

“The Luminaries” (Granta/Little, Brown) opens in 1866 when Walter Moody arrives in New Zealand seeking his fortune. Instead he stumbles upon a secret meeting of a dozen men discussing a series of unsolved crimes.

He’s soon drawn into a puzzle involving corpses, lawsuits and seances. Questions of money and worth are paramount.

Regarding the book’s daunting girth, Macfarlane noted that as a reader, you begin to think of it in its own terms, and likened it to the best kind of goldmine.

“It is really a novel about value, which requires a huge investment from its readers at 832 pages, but from which the dividends are extraordinary. They’re astronomical, to use another key term of the novel.”

Other Finalists

The other finalists included Crace’s “Harvest” (Picador/Doubleday), which depicts a rural community on the cusp of wrenching change, and Jhumpa Lahiri’s “The Lowland” (Bloomsbury/Knopf), a tale of two Indian brothers torn apart by political extremism.

Also among the runners-up were NoViolet Bulawayo’s “We Need New Names” (Chatto/Little, Brown), the story of a 10-year-old girl who chases the American dream from Zimbabwe to Detroit; Ruth Ozeki’s “A Tale for the Time Being” (Canongate/Viking), which begins when a Japanese-American novelist named Ruth finds the washed-up diary of a Tokyo teenager; and three-time finalist Colm Toibin’s “The Testament of Mary” (Penguin/Scribner), a slender, charged retelling of the Gospels by Jesus’s mother.

Catton is only the second New Zealander to win the award, which began as an annual celebration of the best novel written in English by a citizen of the British Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.

Last month, a change in the rules was announced. As of 2014, any novel written in English and published in the U.K. will be eligible, regardless of the author’s nationality.

Administrators claim to be broadening its scope rather than simply making way for U.S. authors, though the news has provoked disgruntlement on both sides of the Atlantic.

“I think it’s generally a bad idea,” Julian Barnes, who won the prize in 2011, recently told the BBC. “I fear that British writers will win it much less often. And often the Booker gives a platform to young writers and encourages them, and that, I think, is much less likely to happen.”

Ironically, this year’s six finalists already combine as many different nationalities. Crace is British and Toibin is Irish. Lahiri and Ozeki are respectively Indian and Canadian enough to fulfill current requirements, but both have dual U.S. citizenship. Noviolet Bulawayo, who is Zimbabwean, currently lives in California.

Now in its 45th year, the Man Booker promises an almost certain increase in sales. Each of the six finalists, including the winner, receives 2,500 pounds ($4,000) and a leather-bound edition of his or her own book.

First established in 1969 by food wholesaler Booker Plc, it has been sponsored since 2002 by Man Group Plc (EMG), the world’s largest publicly traded hedge-fund manager.

Muse highlights include Scott Reyburn on auctions and Amanda Gordon’s Scene.

To contact the writer on the story: Hephzibah Anderson in London at hephzibah_anderson@hotmail.com.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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