Eleanor Cotton Becomes The Youngest Person Ever To Win The Man Booker Prize

28 year-old Eleanor Cotton won the £50,000 Man Booker Prize Award last night (15th) for new novel, 'The Luminaries', and became the youngest ever recipient. The 19th Century gold rush murder mystery is 832 pages long, making it the longest literary work to win the prize in its 45 year history.

Eleanor cotton
Eleanor Catton With Her Booker Prize winner 'The Lumanaries'

This was the second novel by the New Zealand born author and she began writing it 3 years ago, at the age of 25.

The lengthy tale had to overcome some very tough competition at this year's awards, the finalist's included the shortest ever work to be nominated, Colm Toibin's 30,000 word novella 'The Last Testament of Mary' and the bookies favourite Jim Crace's 'Harvest'.

Other finalist's were Ruth Ozeki for 'A Tale for the Time Being', Jhumpa Lahiri for 'The Lowland' and NoViolet Bulawayo for 'We Need New Names'.

Colm Toibin
Colm Toibin With His novella Book 'The Testament of Mary'

Writer and critic Robert Macfarlane was year's chair of judges and he commented on the process of choosing Cotton's novel as the winner, "We have returned to it three times, we have dug into it and the yield it has offered at each new reading has been extraordinary".

Adding, "It's a dazzling work. It's a luminous work. It is vast without being sprawling."

Macfarlane also stated it took only two hours to decide a winner and all the judges were in an agreement, "There was pretty tough discussion, we put the novels to the test . and, at the end, we were all very happy".

After accepting the award Cotton commented on the length of the book, explaining it wasn't on her mind when she was writing it "partly because I was inside it for the whole time."

She added, "It's a curious thing about writing a novel: you never see it until it's finished. When I was nearing the end I started to get a sense that when I pressed save on my Word document it took an awfully long time. It wasn't until I got a proof of the book I thought 'jeepers this is quite big'".

Jim Crace
Jim Crace with his novel 'The Harvest'

Cotton's win wasn't the biggest announcement at this year's ceremony because a controversial rule change has been declared for next year. Since it began the only way an author could enter the Booker is if they were native to a commonwealth country, but now the rule change implements anyone who writes fiction in English can enter.

This will make the awards much more competitive and renowned as writers from the US are now eligible.

However some have opposed the rule change as former winner Julian Barnes, told the BBC, "I fear that British writers will win it much less often. And often the Booker gives a platform to young writers and encourages them, and that, I think, is much less likely to happen."

The prize ceremony will have to wait until next to see if writers from US dominate the ceremony, and overshadow other finalists.

Ruth Ozeki
Ruth Ozeki With Her Novel 'A Tale For The Time Being'

Jhumpa Lahiri
Jhumpa Lahiri with her novel 'The Lowland'

NoViolet Bulawayo
NoViolet Bulawayo With Her Booker Prize Nominated Novel 'We Need New Names'


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