Eleanor Catton (Writing for the Page, 2007)
The IIML experience was absolutely invaluable. The programme equipped me with the tools, vocabulary, and confidence to take myself seriously as a writer.
Eleanor writes: 'The IIML experience was absolutely invaluable to me. The programme equipped me with the tools, vocabulary, and confidence to begin to take myself seriously as a writer.'
Bio: Eleanor completed the MA in 2007, winning the Adam Award for her manuscript, The Rehearsal . The novel was published in 2008 by Victoria University Press, and soon after publication in New Zealand it was sold to major publishers in the UK and the USA. Also in 2007 she won the Sunday Star-Times Short Story Competition for her story 'Necropolis', which was later included in Best New Zealand Fiction Five.
In 2008 she was awarded the Louis Johnson Bursary for emerging writers, and the Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship to study at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. At Iowa she received the inaugural Flannery O'Connor scholarship to spend a further year's study in the MFA programme.
The Rehearsal won the NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction at the 2009 Montana NZ Book Awards and was rapturously received in the UK (Granta, 2009), winning the 2009 UK Society of Authors' Betty Trask Award, and being long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award and the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. It has now been published in seventeen territories and twelve languages worldwide.
Catton was a 2010 Arts Foundation New Generation Award recipient and was awarded the 2012 University of Auckland Residency at the Michael King Writers' Centre
Her second novel, The Luminaries (VUP 2013) won the 2013 Man Booker Prize and the Canadian Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction in the same year. In 2014 it won both the Fiction and People's Choice categories of the New Zealand Post Book Awards, and was shortlisted for the 2014 International Thomas Dylan Prize.
Catton was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and in 2014 she received an honorary doctorate from Victoria University of Wellington.
Praise for The Luminaries:
'...set in the New Zealand gold rush, [The Luminaries] slowly but deeply staked its claim upon the judges. It is animated by a weird struggle between compulsion and conversion: within its pages, men and women proceed according to their fixed fates, while gold – as flakes, nuggets, coins and bars – ceaselessly shifts its shapes around them. In this way capital and character are brought both to clash and to meld. At 832 pages, it might seem like one of Henry James’s "big, baggy monster" novels, but in fact it is as intricately structured as an orrery. Each section is half the length of its predecessor, right down to the final, astonishing pages. It is a book, therefore, which does things brilliantly by halves.'
—Robert Macfarlane, Chair of the Man Booker Prize judging panel. (Read the full winner's announcement speech)
'sprawling, brilliant; there's a virtuosity to the work that affirms every accolade, that justifies all praise. Eleanor Catton is an extraordinary writer who has conducted a bold experiment and, in the tradition of great and celebrated risk-takers, it has paid off richly.'
—from the NZ Post judging panel's comments
'Every now and then you get to read a novel that elevates you far beyond the bric-a-brac of everyday routine, takes you apart, reassembles you, and leaves you feeling as though you have been on holiday with a genius.' NZ Herald
‘a dazzling feat of a novel, the golden nugget in this year's Man Booker long list, a pastiche quite unlike anything I've ever come across, so graceful is its plotting and structure'. The Guardian
'...the type of novel that you will devour only to discover that you can't find anything of equal scope and excitement to read once you have finished.' The Independent
'The novel has many attributes – excellent dialogue, humour, great observation... But the things that most impress are the cunning withholding of information, the elegant foreshadowing, the skilful looping back on the narrative.' The Telegraph
Praise for The Rehearsal:
'This astonishing debut novel from young New Zealander Eleanor Catton is a cause for surprise and celebration...' The Guardian
'As debuts go, this one is astral - as well as teasing, intelligent and knowing.' The Scotsman
'My favourite New Zealand novel of the year.' Louise O'Brien, Nine to Noon Best Books of 2008