There's something about: Eleanor Catton, Author

Author Ellie Catton. Photo / David White
Author Ellie Catton. Photo / David White

She was born in Canada just 28 years ago. She wrote her first novel - a three-page job - at the age of 5. Her family moved back to New Zealand, to Christchurch, when she was 6. And this week she may well become the youngest winner of the Man Booker books prize (the previous youngest is four years her senior). She was in Dublin when she heard the news that her second published novel The Luminaries, a ghost story-cum-mystery set in the Hokitika goldfields in the 1860s, had made the competition's shortlist. She's very strongly influenced by male-dominated TV dramas like The Sopranos, The Wire and Breaking Bad.

The Luminaries has just two female characters and 18 male characters. Its first chapter, about 50 pages, took two years to write. The book has sold about 6000 copies in New Zealand. Catton, whose father was a philosophy lecturer, completed her first published novel, The Rehearsal, at just 22, while doing her masters in creative writing at Victoria. She's an advocate of creative writing courses and met her partner Steve Toussaint, an American expat, at the Iowa Writers' Workshop where he was completing a masters in fine arts in poetry.

Catton teaches a creative writing course at the Manukau Institute of Technology. How good is she? Well, The Guardian says Catton is "an extraordinary writer".

Canvas reviewer Paula Green called her "remarkable". British bookies Ladbrokes has her third favourite for the £50,000 Man Booker prize.

- NZ Herald

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