Five facts about Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton


New Zealand author Eleanor Catton poses with her book The Luminaries during a photocall for the shortlisted authors of the 2013 Man Booker Prize for Fiction at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

Canadian-born author Eleanor Catton is the winner of the 2013 Man Booker prize. The prize goes to her second novel The Luminaries, which takes place during New Zealand's late 19th-century gold rush. The Man Booker prize is one of the world's most prestigious literary awards with a grand prize of £50,000 ($83,000 Cdn).

So, what do you need to know about this shining new literary star? Here are five interesting facts about Eleanor Catton.

1. She's the youngest-ever winner of the Man Booker Prize

Eleanor Catton is just 28. She was born on September 24, 1985 in London, Ontario. The previous youngest winner was Ben Okri, who won the prize in 1991 at the age of 32. Catton started writing The Luminaries at the age of 25, when she was a fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

2. She's from New Zealand...and Canada

Eleanor was born in London, Ontario, while her father was completing his PhD at the University of Western Ontario. Her family spent the first six years of Eleanor's life in Canada before moving to New Zealand when her father accepted a teaching position at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. Eleanor currently lives in Auckland, where she teaches at the Manukau Institute of Technology.

3. Her previous novel is also an award winner

Yup, she's 28 and has already published two award-winning novels. Her 2008 debut, The Rehearsal, came out of her master's thesis at The Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington. The Rehearsal was adored by critics and won a number of prizes, including the First Novel Award after it was published in Canada in 2010.

4. She gets into character during the writing process

While doing research for The Luminaries, Catton limited herself to reading only books published earlier than 1866 for an entire year -- books her gold rush-era characters might plausibly have read.

5. The Luminaries is a massive tome

At more than 800 pages, The Luminaries is the longest book to ever win the Man Booker Prize. Catton says she felt that the story could be that length and still work because she was inspired by long-form TV box sets like The Sopranos and The Wire. As for novels, the two she said had the biggest influence on The Luminaries were Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.

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