Booker Prize: Catton Becomes Youngest Winner
Eleanor Catton has become the youngest ever winner of the Man Booker Prize for her novel The Luminaries.
The 28-year-old New Zealander beat five other shortlisted writers - including British author Jim Crace, who had said his offering Harvest would be his final novel - to the £50,000 prize.
She was presented with the award - widely seen as the UK's most prestigious literary prize - by the Duchess of Cornwall at a ceremony at London's Guildhall.
At 832 pages, the novel, described as "dazzling" by chairman of judges Robert Macfarlane, is also the longest to win.
It took him and the four other judges just under two hours to agree on the winner, without a vote.
He said: "The Luminaries is a magnificent novel. Awesome in its structural complexity, addictive in its storytelling and magical in its conjuring of a world of greed and gold.
"The maturity of this work exists in every sentence ... and you are astonished by its knowledge and its poise."
It tells the story of Walter Moody, who is drawn into a mystery when he attempts to make his fortune in New Zealand's gold fields in the mid-1800s.
Described as a "Kiwi Twin Peaks", it is Canadian-born Catton's second novel.
She was 25 when she started writing the book and 27 when she completed it.
Her first - The Rehearsal - was longlisted for the Orange Prize in 2010.
Ben Okri, 32, was the previous youngest winner of the Man Booker Prize in 1991, while Kiran Desai, 35, was the youngest woman to take the prize in 2006.