In the second KYD No. 17 teaser, our new Interviews Editor Bethanie Blanchard chats to Booker Prize-winning author Eleanor Catton.
Dazzling, luminous, vast. These were the words the Man Booker Prize chair of judges used to describe the 2013 winning novel, The Luminaries by 28-year-old writer, Eleanor Catton. The triumph was significant for two reasons: Catton was the youngest author ever to receive the prize, and her intricate tome, The Luminaries – a complex, ambitious, 832-page work guided by astrological movements – is the longest novel to claim the award in its 45 year history. This is how most discovered her, and awestruck phrases suddenly became associated with her name: the youngest author ever for the longest book ever.
Since receiving the prestigious prize, Catton has continued to intrigue – adept at social media, friends with musician Lorde and writing about her home country for a global audience in an essay for the Guardian that would daunt lesser 28-year-olds. She has also been fearless in speaking about the gendered reactions to her work, and skewering old guard critics for their prejudiced reaction to her age.
As I set up my recorder, Catton and I discuss the interviews she has done since the explosion of her name following the Booker win.
‘One thing that has really changed for me in the last little while is that my attitude towards journalists and the way I conduct myself around journalists is really different. I think that it’s an amateur mistake – a totally reasonable one – to act as though you and the journalist are mates. That was always the way that I was, and I have gotten burnt by that a couple of times.’