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  • 'Luminaries' novelist Catton wins Booker Prize

  • Eleanor Catton took the 2013 Man Booker Prize for "The Luminaries" at an awards ceremony in London on Tuesday night. At 28, Catton is the youngest novelist to win the prestigious prize — and her novel, at more than 800 pages, is the longest book.
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  • Eleanor Catton took the 2013 Man Booker Prize for "The Luminaries" at an awards ceremony in London on Tuesday night. At 28, Catton is the youngest novelist to win the prestigious prize — and her novel, at more than 800 pages, is the longest book.
    When she accepted the award, Catton admitted that "The Luminaries" — an ambitious, structurally complex murder mystery set in 19th-century New Zealand — "was, from the start, a publisher's nightmare." She thanked her editors for "striking a balance between making art and making money."
    In England, winning the Man Booker often means a significant uptick in sales. The novel officially hits U.S. shelves this week.
    Catton was born in Canada and brought up in New Zealand; she's only the second New Zealander to win the $80,000 prize.
    The nationalities of the authors in the running this year came under greater focus after the organizers announced that eligibility would change in 2014. Traditionally, authors had to come from the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, Ireland and Zimbabwe.
    Starting next year, any author writing in English and publishing in the U.K. will be eligible.
    Nevertheless, the shortlist of six authors this year seemed to demonstrate that the award already has international reach. It included two authors who are generally regarded as American — Jhumpa Lahiri, who was born in England, and Ruth Ozeki, who lives part of the year in Canada. Debut author NoViolet Bulawayo was born in Zimbabwe and now lives in the U.S., as does Irishman Colm Toibin for part of the year. Only one finalist, author Jim Crace, is a native Brit living full time in England.
    Crace was generally thought to be the front-runner for the prize. However, sophomore novelist Catton has clearly established herself as a force to be reckoned with; she was long-listed for the Orange Prize and Guardian First Book Award and won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award before winning the Man Booker.
    Catton vowed to continue challenging herself, telling Australia's Booktopia earlier this year, "I hope that every book I write will be completely different from the last."
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