a toast to ellie catton – darling of the writing world, NZ literary superhero

I originally posted this on my Raw Library FB page (go like it now, you crazy cats!), but the sentiment must be shared over the whole internet! The rejoicing in NZ bookstores today was ridiculous.

In super exciting book world news (and if you’ve been living in a news media free world for the past 11 hours), Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker Prize for The Luminaries! This is super exciting, for several reasons beyond the fact that it’s one of the biggest deals in the literary world – she’s a) the youngest author EVER to win b) it’s the longest novel ever to win, and c) she’s only the second Kiwi to win. And combining points a) and c), last time it was won by a NZer, it was Keri Hulme (The Bone People) – in 1985, the same year Catton was born.

It’s really a spectacular book – my review obviously supports my opinion – but I’d also recommend checking out her earlier work. The Rehearsal, her first novel, is among my favourite books of all time – I would say that it’s probably my overall favourite ‘contemporary fiction’ book. But even further back then that, her short stories are all fabulous. And here’s where Briar connections come in! Catton’s story Necropolis won the 2007 Sunday Star Times Short Story Competition (for non-lit-obsessed types/non-Kiwis, it’s one of the two biggest short story competitions in the country) – coincidentally the same year that I can second in the secondary schools division. I congratulated her, and she me, and it was a splendid evening. Here’s hoping I can yet emulate but a fraction of her success. Go read Necropolis!