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Eleanor Catton is just 28-years-old, but she’s already won one of the most prized awards in literature: the Man Booker Prize. She is the youngest winner, writing the longest novel to ever take the prize, The Luminaries.
The novel, a sprawling epic about a 19th century family, is 832 pages. Catton, who was raised in New Zealand, was 25 when she began writing it. Robert Macfarlane, the chair of this year’s judges, said that the book begins slow, but it is worth reading through to the end, notes The Guardian.
“We have returned to it three times,” Macfarlane said. “We have dug into it and the yield it has offered at each new reading has been extraordinary.” He added that the judges, who took less than two hours to make the decision, are very happy with their choice.
“Maturity is evident in every sentence, in the rhythms and balances,” Macfarlane explained. “It is a novel of astonishing control.”
According to The New York Times, the winner will receive £50,000 ($80,000). The prize is awarded to the best book by writers within the Commonwealth of Nationals and Ireland.
However, that will change next year, since Americans will now be eligible for the award. Judges will now consider any novel written in the English language.