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New Zealand’s 27-year-old writing sensation takes Booker in her stride


The Daily Telegraph carries an interview with Eleanor Catton, the 27-year-old novelist from New Zealand who has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.  The Luminaries is tale set in the New Zealand goldfields during 1866, and Catton is the youngest writer to be ever shortlisted for the award.

In her second novel, The Luminaries, a series of crimes have been committed, and a council of 12 men has convened to solve them. Fiendishly complex plotting ensues. She set out to write a murder mystery, not a historical novel, but found the past offered more opportunities for misapprehensions. At more than 800 pages, it is “big by necessity”, because she wanted to give each of the 20 main characters “a decent show”. Also, it has a unique, slightly mad, astrological framework. One imagines the queue of travellers behind her at passport control growing longer and longer.

Catton, who was born in Canada, is a teacher of creative writing at the Manukau Institute of Technology. She has attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop on a fellowship in 2008, a year after her debut novel, The Rehearsal, was published.

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Richard Davies

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