Meet Eleanor Catton. At 28 years old, she's the youngest person to have ever received the Man Booker Prize, Britain’s most prestigious literary award. At a ceremony yesterday in London, the New Zealander won for The Luminaries , a lengthy novel set in a 19th-century version of her homeland. In her acceptance speech, she acknowledged that the book was a "nightmare" for her publishers, whom she thanked for striking an "elegant balance between making art and making money." Catton set not one but two records yesterday: Her 848-page book also happens to be the longest book ever awarded the Booker Prize.
Catton reportedly seemed surprised at her win. The judges, however, noted that her book was written with a maturity normally seen in more seasoned authors. "It is a novel of astonishing control," said the panel's chairman.
The author beat out We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, Harvest by Jim Crace, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri, and The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin. Next year, the prize — which has been historically awarded to writers from Britain, Ireland, Zimbabwe, or the Commonwealth — will open up the competition to all authors who write in English. Some fear that American writers will tip the scales once they're allowed to contend. But, the Booker Foundation chairman, Jonathan Taylor, put it another way: "It is rather as if the Chinese were excluded from the Olympic Games.” (NYT)
Photo: Via The New York Times.