The Luminaries is a lengthy tome of historical fiction at 832 pages (the lengthiest winner before now was Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall at 672 pages). This led Robert Macfarlane, chair of the judges, to joke that “those of us who didn’t read it on e-readers enjoyed a full upper-body work-out.”
Based in 1866 New Zealand, The Luminaries revolves around Walter Moody, who is drawn into a complex web of mysteries when he arrives in a new area. It was an extremely critically acclaimed novel, although it hasn’t quite cracked the 4/5 mark on popular review site Goodreads.
Catton is just 28, and the previous youngest winner was 32 year-old Ben Okri for The Famished Road in 1991. Catton understandably expressed shock and disbelief at the events of last night.
Others books shortlisted included Jim Crace’s Harvest which was the favourite to win for its timless and unsettling tone.