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On Tuesday, October 15, at the age of 28, New Zealand author Eleanor Catton became the youngest ever winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize. Receiving her award at London's Guildhall, Catton won for her 832-page book on 19th century goldfields, "The Luminaries", the longest novel to win in the 45-year history of the annual contemporary fiction awards.
"It's a dazzling work. It's a luminous work. It is vast without being sprawling," said the chairman of the judging panel, Robert Macfarlane about the book that its author described as "a publisher's nightmare." The award was presented to Catton by the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Rosemary Mountbatten-Windsor and was announced live via the BBC News Channel.
"We have returned to it three times now and we have dug into it - to use its own metaphors - and the yield it has offered at each new reading has been extraordinary," said Macfarlane. Apparently, it took the panel "just under two hours of pretty tough discussion" to decide the winner, a book which he jokingly said gave "those of us who didn't read it on e-readers enjoyed a full upper-body work-out."
By winning this year, Catton became only the second writer from New Zealand to win the Man Booker Prize, after Keri Hulme won in 1985 for her first and only novel "The Bone People". "The Luminaries" is now the longest Man Booker Prize winner, exceeding the 672-page 2009 winner "Wolf Hall" with its 832 pages.