Eleanor Catton wins the 2013 Man Booker Prize

October 15, 2013

Eleanor Catton has won this year’s Man Booker Prize, Britain’s most prestigious literary award, for her second novel, “The Luminaries.” Born in Canada and raised in New Zealand, the 28-year-old writer is the youngest person ever to win the Booker.

New Zealand author Eleanor Catton, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2013. (Olivia Harris/ REUTERS )
New Zealand author Eleanor Catton, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2013. (Olivia Harris/ REUTERS )

“The Luminaries” is an enormous and enormously complex novel set in the gold rush town of Hokitika, New Zealand, around 1865.

When she accepted the award, Catton said, ” ‘The Luminaries’ was, from the start, a publisher’s nightmare.” She thanked her editors for “striking a balance between making art and making money. ”

[Update: Read Chris Bohjalian's review.]

Odds makers in England were favoring Jim Crace as the award ceremony approached. (Yes, people bet on literary awards in England, which is all you need to know about the difference between them and us.) Earlier this year, Crace told the Independent that he was “retiring from writing to avoid the inevitable bitterness which a writing career is bound to deliver as its end product.”

The other finalists for this year’s prize were:

“We Need New Names,” by NoViolet Bulawayo

“Harvest,” by Jim Crace

The Lowland,” by Jhumpa Lahiri (also in contention for the National Book Award).

A Tale for the Time Being,” by Ruth Ozeki

The Testament of Mary,” by Colm Tóibín

Lahiri may have lost this year’s Booker Prize, but because of her dual citizenship (and immense talent), she is still in the running for the National Book Award. (The finalists will be announced tomorrow morning.)

The judges considered 151 novels for the $80,000 prize.

Next year, for the first time, American authors will be allowed to compete for the Man Booker Prize.


Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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Chris Richards · October 15, 2013