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5 reasons to immediately read The Luminaries—even if it's 832 pages long

With Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries having snatched up both the 2013 Man Booker and the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction (as well as being longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction), you may be thinking of reading it. Until you try to pick it up and end up with your right arm in a sling. But don’t be put off by its intimidating girth. Here are five good reasons why The Luminaries should be the next book you read.

1. Genius prodigy author. The London, Ontario-born Catton’s first novel, The Rehearsal, won or was a finalist for no less than eight different prizes—including the IMPAC Dublin and the Orange Prize. With The Luminaries, she became the youngest author to win the prestigious Man Booker, only to follow that laurel up with a GG. Oh—and she’s 28 years old. 

2. It’s an epic ghost story/mystery set during the New Zealand Gold Rush, structured astrologically. Who doesn't want to be the first to say that at their next book club meeting? Boo-ya!

3. The prose is juicy beyond belief. Take this bit about the character Anna Wetherell, an opium-addicted prostitute with gold stitched into the seams of her dress:

Anna moved away from him again, to the bedhead this time, and wrapped her fingers around the iron knob. As she moved he smelled her again—the sea. The intensity of the sensation startled him. He had to check the urge to step towards her, to follow her, and breathe her in. He smelled salt, and iron, and the heavy, metallic taste of foul weather… low cloud, he thought, and rain. And not just the sea: a ship. That tarred ropy smell, the dusty damp of bleached teak, oiled sailcloth, candle wax. His mouth began to water.

…Oh sorry, what were we writing about? We were just having a wee glimpse at the book to see what happens next. You know, just for the article and everything.

4. Soon enough, you’ll be able to compare it to the TV version. Make that “telly”—The Luminaries has been optioned in the hopes of becoming a BBC miniseries. 

5. Did we mention? It’s 832 pages long. And once you start, you will read the whole thing. We guarantee it. Think of the enormous amount of time we've just saved you from wasting on the Oscar the Grouch/Grumpy Cat Face-Off or descaling the coffeemaker. You’re welcome.

Excerpted from The Luminaries. Copyright © 2013 Eleanor Catton. Published by McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.


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