At the age of 28, Eleanor Catton is the youngest ever winner of the prestigious literary award the Man Booker Prize. Catton’s novel The Luminaries is also the longest novel to win the prize. The New Zealand born author faced competition from NoViolet Bulawayo, Jim Crace, Jhumpa Lahiri, Colm Tóibín and Ruth Ozeki.
Catton began The Luminaries, her second novel, at the age of 25. Her debut novel, The Rehearsal, also picked up a number of awards including the 2007 Adam Award in Creative Writing. The youngest winner of the Man Booker prize had previously been Ben Okri, who won aged 32 in 1991. Okri spoke to the Telegraph, congratulating Catton on her achievement: “I think its lovely. Records are there to be broken.”
The Luminaries was highly praised by the Man Booker judges, who described it as “dazzling and luminous.” They added that the length of a book “doesn’t matter as long as it’s good.” It was awarded 5 stars in a Telegraph review when it was released in August.
The novel focuses on wealth and value in the Victorian Gold Rush in New Zealand. Historical fiction has been a particularly successful genre with regards to the Booker prize in recent years. Hilary Mantel achieved two Booker victories with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.
Catton thanked her partner Steven Toussaint when accepting her prize and told the Telegraph that she was yet to decide how to spend her £50,000 prize.