Eleanor Catton: Booker's Latest Luminary

on Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Last night I had a weird dream in which I read (in a newspaper of all things) that Jhumpa Lahiri had won the Booker Prize. I wasn't surprised. Nor was I disappointed. Can't say I was particularly excited, though. Fast forward to a few minutes ago when I woke up in time for the announcement and sat glued to Twitter because the Booker website had pretty much crashed. While waiting for the all-knowing blue spot to show up in the feed, I had all my fingers, toes and superfluous digits crossed that it would go to either Jim Crace or Eleanor Catton.

Well, it must have been that third ear, because Eleanor Catton has bagged herself a Booker for The Luminaries and, in doing so, injected some much needed excitement into a prize that is struggling for oxygen in an overcrowded field. It is a bold move, one sure to upset the fuddy duddies (who, I think, were rooting for either Crace or Toibin - both of who wrote very worthy books) and an hilarious middle finger to the whinging minions that keep harping on about the brevity of many Booker contenders (or winners). Oh, and she's the youngest winner ever too!

Before you run to your e-readers, a thought. I understand your concern. At 800 pages, The Luminaries is darn heavy. But, let me assure you, it's worth it. I carried the thing onto a plane last month and read it in a single sitting. It's that good (and fun, and eminently readable). If you go the e-route, you will miss out on the sheer joy of watching the physical progress of reading such a mammoth work, feeling the weight shift from one side to the other as you plough through. Go out and buy the bloody thing. In hardcover if you can. It's the sort of old-fashioned tale that deserves to be experienced on paper. Plus you get the added bonus of its lovely presence on your bookshelf for years to come so that you can remember the time you climbed book Everest with a young, cool and incredibly talented New Zealand sherpa as your guide.

And that, dear Bookworms, almost wraps up literary prize silly season. For once, it's looking like I'll be able to bid it a fond farewell with two great recipients for my two favourite prizes thus far. And if Jhumpa Lahiri, Rachel Kushner or James McBride wins the National Book Award, literary nirvana will be achieved. Better go buy some incense.


Theresa said...

Love your blog! Just discovered it off The Labrastory's site.

This makes me want to read this book sooooo much. We're discussing doing it as a two-parter for my book club.

The Bookworm said...

Yes! Do it! It's a wonderful novel that can be enjoyed on so many levels. I imagine everyone will get something different from it. And the fact she is only 28 and from our corner of the world makes it even more exciting.

Thanks for visiting - glad you found my little corner of the webisphere.

The Bookworm said...

(Apparently I like to use the word "corner" a lot)

medical escort miami information said...

This is a beautifully written mystery novel that is very evokative of the West coast of the South Island of New Zealand and the period in which it is set. Despite its length I found it eminently readable and I intend to revisit this novel in the future. I felt the 2013 Man Booker would be a contest between The Luminaries and Harvest, the outstanidng finalists, and believe this choice was a brave one by the judges who clearly grapsed the concept of the international scope of this award.

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