Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

2013 Booker Prize Winner

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton


Publisher: Granta Publications

Length: 832 pages

About: 1860s New Zealand gold rush mystery

Style: 3rd person

Where: New Zealand

When: 1866



Publisher’s synopsis:

It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields.  On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes.  A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk.  Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.



During his sixteen years on the raw fields Thomas Balfour had met a great many men like Walter Moody, and it was a credit to his temperament that he had retained, over these years, a deep affection and regard for the virgin state of menyet untested by experience, yet untried. Balfour was sympathetic to ambition, and unorthodox, as a self-made man, in his generosity of spirit. Enterprise pleased him; desire pleased him. He was disposed to like Moody simply for the reason that the other man had undertaken a pursuit about which he evidently knew very little, and from which he must expect a great return.




 It uses the historical setting as a backdrop and has a gregarious cast of characters (the brilliantly named Emery Staines, the demonic con woman Lydia Wells). But the things that most impress are the cunning withholding of information, the elegant foreshadowing, the skilful looping back on the narrative.

Lucy Daniel, The Telegraph, 16th October 2103

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Not so good:

But it is also a massive shaggy dog story; a great empty bag; an enormous, wicked, gleeful cheat. For nothing in this enormous book, with its exotic and varied cast of characters whose lives all affect each other and whose fates are intricately entwined, amounts to anything like the moral and emotional weight one would expect of it.

Kirsty Gunn, The Guardian, 11 September 2013

For full review click here


About the author

Catton was born 24th September 1985 in Canada where her New Zealand father was a graduate student completing his doctorate at the University of Western Ontario. She grew up in Christchurch after her family returned to New Zealand when she was six years old, although she spent a year living in Leeds where she attended Lawnswood School. She attended Burnside High School, studied English at the University of Canterbury, and completed a Master's degree in Creative Writing at The Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington.


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Age guide: 12






Novels by same author:

 The Rehearsal 2008







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2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

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