Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Man Booker Prize 2013: Youngest Author & Biggest Book

When the dust settled after the winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize was announced today a couple of records had been broken. At 28, Winner Eleanor Catton was the youngest winner in the history of the prize and at 832 pages, the novel she won for, The Luminaries, is the longest ever Man Booker Winner.

In their announcement, the Man Booker people pointed out another couple noteworthy facts: Catton is only the second New Zealander to win the prize, though many would likely say it was overdue: Keri Hulm won for The Bone People back in 1985. Also, with 151 authors competing for the prize this year, it was the largest Man Booker field ever.

Man Booker judge Robert Macfarlane said the book was a “dazzling work, luminous, vast.” He added that it was “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.”

The Luminaries is set during the 1866 New Zealand gold rush. Twelve me have gathered for a meeting in a hotel when a traveler stumbles into their midst. The story involves a missing rich man, a dead hermit, a huge sum in gold, and a beaten-up whore. There are sex and seances, opium and lawsuits in the mystery too. The multiple voices take turns to tell their own stories and gradually what happened in the small town of Hokitika on New Zealand’s South Island is revealed.

The winner of the Man Booker Prize receives £50,000 (about $80,000) and, like all the shortlisted authors, a cheque for £2,500 and a designer bound copy of their book. ◊



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