The literary pages here are abuzz with the news that “one of our own” appears in the Man Booker Prize longlist. Youth, talent, partly raised in Christchurch and graduate of the novel factory (aka Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters) – Eleanor Catton is ticking a lot of boxes.
Also rather freakishly her novel The luminaries is set on the West Coast, where our last big international literary splash Keri Hulme set her Booker Prize winner The bone people. Apart from that the two writers and their work could not be more different, and that’s how it should be if we have a developing a varied body of writing in our culture. In fact I was just remembering that The bone people was originally published by a women’s collective here in New Zealand. Contrast with The luminaries – hardbound editions for the UK, the USA and here. You can read more about Keri Hulme’s win on NZhistory. (including the classic quote from Joanna Lumley who was one of the judges that year ‘The so-called bitchy world of acting was a brownie’s tea party compared with the piranha-infested waters of publishing’.
It must be pretty exciting to see your work up there listed with such luminaries as Colm Toibin, Ruth Ozeki and Jim Crace.
The Man Booker judges this year are Robert MacFarlane, Martha Kearney, Stuart Kelly, Natalie Haynes and Robert Douglas-Fairhurst . All are writers, reviewers and academics. They had to read 151 books before they produced the longlist.
The shortlist will be announced on 10 September 2013 and the winner on 15 October 2013.
As usual the bookies are circling and offering odds. William Hill is offering 5 to 1 on Jim Crace and 6 to 1 on Eleanor Catton and Colm Toibin.
The Guardian describes the list as “daring and experimental” and you can read plenty of other comment there too.
Already our copies of The luminaries are accruing a bit of a waiting list. Maybe you should pop out and buy – support New Zealand writers. And by the by – who designed that striking cover…?