News / Arts & Entertainment

Catton Wins 2013 Man Booker Prize

New Zealand writer Eleanor Catton poses after being announced the winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, holding her prize and her book for the photographers, in central London, Oct. 15, 2013.
New Zealand writer Eleanor Catton poses after being announced the winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, holding her prize and her book for the photographers, in central London, Oct. 15, 2013.
Reuters
New Zealand author Eleanor Catton won the 2013 Man Booker prize for English fiction on Tuesday for her novel "The Luminaries", to become the youngest winner in the award's 45-year history.
 
The 28-year-old novelist poked fun at the size of her 848-page tome about the 19th century New Zealand gold rush and thanked British publishers Granta for their patience.
 
"I've actually just had to buy a new handbag because my old handbag wasn't big enough to fit my book," Catton told journalists at a hasty press conference.
 
Chair of judges Robert Macfarlane described Catton's second novel, set in the New Zealand goldfields of 1866, as dazzling and very clever.
 
"'The Luminaries' is a magnificent novel: awesome in its structural complexity; addictive in its story-telling; and magical in its conjuring of a world of greed and gold," he said.
 
Catton's story tells the tale of Walter Moody, who arrives in the goldfields to seek his fortune and immediately stumbles across a tense gathering of local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes.
 
A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk.
 
Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.
 
Catton said she was grateful to her publishers for allowing her the freedom to explore her theme without pressure to make an obviously commercial novel.
 
"I was free throughout to concern myself with questions not of value, but of worth," she said after accepting the award from Prince Charles's wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, at a glittering dinner in London's ancient Guildhall.
 
Commonwealth
 
The other shortlisted authors for the prize were Canadian Ruth Ozeki for "A Tale for the Time Being", Indian-American Jhumpa Lahiri for "The Lowland", Zimbabwean NoViolet Bulawayo for "We Need New Names", Briton Jim Crace for "Harvest" and Irish writer Colm Toibin for "The Testament of Mary".
 
The win by a Commonwealth author and the second from New Zealand in the Man Booker's history is likely to set literary tongues wagging over the decision by the prestigious prize's organizers to change the rules for eligibility from 2014.
 
In September, the Man Booker said it will permit authors from all over the world to compete for a prize that had been previously exclusive to writers from the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Commonwealth.
 
The decision caused a ruckus in the publishing world. Some British authors fretted that the American publishing juggernaut will drown out the voices of lesser known Commonwealth novelists such as Catton, Bulawayo and Ozeki.
 
"Will a young woman published in New Zealand stand much of a chance again?" Crace said after the dinner.
 
However, Catton said she was glad that the changes removed the artificial restrictions of nationality from the prize, echoing assertions from Man Booker organizers that the award will become the world's biggest English-language fiction award.
 
"I think it's a really great thing that finally we've got a prize that is an English-language prize that doesn't make a distinction for writers who are writing from a particular country," she said.
 
On top of a 50,000 pound ($79,800) prize, Catton will enjoy the global recognition that usually precedes a catapult in book sales.
 
Her win follows 2012 winner Hilary Mantel, who won in 2009 for "Wolf Hall" and in 2012 for "Bring up the Bodies". Mantel's double win secured her the No. 1 spot in the official UK top 50 chart and sales of more than 1.5 million books.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Paquito D'Rivera, who has won 12 Grammys, is celebrated both for his artistry in Latin jazz and his achievements as a classical composer. D'Rivera's latest project, “Jazz Meets the Classics,” was released this month. He joins us on the latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."