Eleanor Catton becomes youngest Booker Prize winner

BRITAIN LITERATURE/PRIZE

New Zealand's Eleanor Catton, recipient of this year's Man Booker Prize, poses with her trophy. Catton on Wednesday became the youngest winner of this prestigious British literary award and the last before it is opened to authors from the United States. EFE
New Zealand's Eleanor Catton, recipient of this year's Man Booker Prize, poses with her trophy. Catton on Wednesday became the youngest winner of this prestigious British literary award and the last before it is opened to authors from the United States. EFE

— New Zealand's Eleanor Catton on Wednesday became the youngest winner of the Man Booker Prize and the last before it is opened to authors from the United States.

The 28yearold Catton was honored for "The Luminaries," a vast 832page novel abounding with mystery and symbolism and set in the goldfields of 19thcentury New Zealand.

The work was also the longest to win the Booker, which was established in 1969 to honor Englishlanguage novels written by citizens of Britain and the other 52 states of the Commonwealth of Nations, as well as former Commonwealth members Ireland and Zimbabwe.

The head of the Booker's jury, Robert Macfarlane, described Catton's work, her second after the 2008 novel "The Rehearsal," as "mature" and "magnificent."

"Awesome in its structural complexity, addictive in its storytelling and magical in its conjuring of a world of greed and gold," Macfarlane said at the award ceremony at London's Guildhall.

The event was held a month after Booker's organizers announced that any novel originally written in English and published in Britain, regardless of the author's nationality, would be eligible for the award beginning in 2014.

Catton, a Canadianborn resident of Australia, was an upset winner over English oddson favorite Jim Crace, who was in the running for his novel "Harvest."

Previous winners of the Man Booker prize include Trinidadborn British novelist V.S. Naipaul, British Indian author Salman Rushdie, South Africa's J.M. Coetzee, England's Ian McEwan, Irishborn British author Iris Murdoch and England's Julian Barnes, who has criticized the decision to open the prize to American authors.