Eleanor Catton holds her Booker Prize (Photo: Joel Ryan/AP)
She was born in London, Ontario, and grew up in New Zealand, and now Eleanor Catton has won the 2013 Man Booker Prize for her gold-rush novel The Luminaries. At 28, Catton was the youngest writer nominated for the prize this year — and the youngest winner in the prize's history, according to the Booker site.
The novel, Catton's second, is set in 1866, during New Zealand's gold rush. It tells the story of 12 men who have gathered to solve a series of local crimes: a wealthy man has disappeared, a large fortune has been found in the home of a local man, and a prostitute has attempted suicide.
Robert Macfarlane, the chair of this year's panel of judges, described the book as a "dazzling work, luminous, vast."
Other nominees for this year's award included American-born Canadian author Ruth Ozeki for A Tale for the Time Being, Colm Tóibín for The Testament of Mary, Jhumpa Lahiri for The Lowland and NoViolet Bulawayo for We Need New Names.
Catton's book is up for another literary award this year, this one Canadian: The Luminaries is one of five books nominated for the Governor General's Literary Awards for English fiction.
The other GG nominees in the category are Joseph Boyden's The Orenda, The Lion Seeker by Kenneth Bonert, A Beautiful Truth by Colin McAdam and Shyam Selvaduri's The Hungry Ghosts. That award will be announced in mid-November.
The Man Booker Prize, which was founded in 1969, is worth 50,000 pounds ($83,000) and considered one of the world's top literary honours, CBC News reports. Since the award's creation, only writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth countries have been eligible to win. Starting next year, it will be open to all English-language novels published in the U.K., regardless of the author's nationality.