New Year Honours 2014: Eleanor Catton

By Heather McCracken

Eleanor Catton's Man Booker-winning novel The Luminaries would have been under many Kiwi Christmas trees this year. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Eleanor Catton's Man Booker-winning novel The Luminaries would have been under many Kiwi Christmas trees this year. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Writer Eleanor Catton hasn't set foot in New Zealand since her Man Booker Prize win, but has still never been far from the public eye.

In October, she scooped the prestigious prize in Britain with her second novel, The Luminaries - the youngest writer ever to do so.

She is also just the second New Zealander to win the prize, after Keri Hulme for her novel The Bone People in 1985.

Ms Catton's historical murder mystery has gone on to be a top-seller and would have been under many Kiwi Christmas trees this year.

The 830-page book, set during the West Coast gold rush, earned praise from the Man Booker judges as a "dazzling work, luminous, vast".

Since her Man Booker success, Ms Catton has been on a book- promotions tour in Britain, Canada and the United States.

This month, she was named the Herald's New Zealander of the Year, along with golfer Lydia Ko and teen singer Lorde.

She spoke to the Herald then about adjusting to fame and life in the media glare.

"The odd thing about suddenly being in the public eye is that the way you interact with the world is the same, but people are treating you very differently."

While doing promotions in Canada she was surprised by hosts wanting to put her in their best rooms and take her to fancy restaurants. "I'm still the same person I was."

Born in Canada but raised in Christchurch, she told the media after the Man Booker win that the fuss over the prize had helped her "feel more like a New Zealander than ever".

Ms Catton studied at Victoria University's Institute of Modern Letters, and published her first novel, The Rehearsal, in 2008. It was shortlisted for the Guardian first-book award and longlisted for the Orange Prize.

Ms Catton lectures in creative writing at the Manukau Institute of Technology.

Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to literature.

- APNZ

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