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Man Booker win 'a victory for New Zealand' - Catton

Published: 7:13AM Wednesday October 16, 2013 Source: ONE News

New Zealand author Eleanor Catton says becoming the youngest ever recipient of the prestigious Man Booker Prize, feels like a victory for New Zealand.

The 28-year-old's novel The Luminaries won against six other titles for the fiction writing award.

The mystery novel is set in the 19th century West Coast goldfields -a tale of murder set to the movements of the stars.

"I feel so proud and pleased that so many readers now will be going to Hokitika, metaphorically speaking", said Ms Catton.

The Duchess of Cornwall presented Ms Catton with the award at London's Guildhall. She takes away a 50,000 pound (NZ$95,000) cheque for her success.

Jonathan Ruppin, the web editor for UK bookstore Foyles, said Ms Catton was a writer of insight and intelligence.

"[Ms Catton] is at the vanguard of the evolution of the novel," he told the BBC.

"I'm confident that she is destined to be one of the most important and influential writers of her generation."

On accepting her award, Ms Catton thanked her primary publishers, the Victoria University Press in New Zealand and Granta in London, for not putting pressure on her to write with commercial success in mind.

"I am very aware of the pressures upon contemporary publishing to make money and to remain competitive in a competitive world.

"I was free throughout to concern myself with questions not of value, but of worth.

Ms Catton said winning the award was even more incredible because The Luminaries was "a publisher's nightmare".

"The shape and form of the book made certain kinds of editorial suggestions, that were not only mathematically impossible, but even more egregious; astrologically impossible."

Fergus Barrowman of Victoria University Press, who attended the ceremony in London, said he was thrilled at Ms Catton's triumph.

"We are delighted for Ellie and for the further international recognition the Man Booker Prize will bring The Luminaries.

"It's a big ambitious book written by a fearlessly intelligent and talented writer," Mr Barrowman said.

Jim Crace's Harvest, Colm Toibin's The Testament of Mary, Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland, NoViolet Bulawayo's We Need New Names and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki were all shortlisted for the prize.

The last New Zealander to win the award was Keri Hulme in 1985 for her novel The Bone People.

Founded in 1969, the award is open to British, Irish and Commonwealth authors although from next year, Americans and other English-language writers will also be able to enter.

The award is officially named the Man Booker Prize after its sponsor, the financial services firm Man Group.