Winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize and Governor General’s Award for Fiction, and set during the heady days of New Zealand’s Gold Rush, The Luminaries is a magnificent novel of love, lust, murder, and greed, in which three unsolved crimes link the fates and fortunes of twelve men. Dickens meets Deadwood in this internationally celebrated phenomenon.
In January 1866, young Walter Moody lands in a gold-mining frontier town on the west coast of New Zealand to make his fortune and forever leave behind a family scandal. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men who have met in secret to investigate what links three crimes that occurred on a single day: the town’s wealthiest man has vanished. An enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. A prostitute has supposedly tried to end her life. But nothing is quite as it seems. As the men share their stories, what emerges is an intricate network of alliances and betrayals, secrets and lies, that is as exquisitely patterned as the night sky.
Part mystery, part fantastical love story, and intricately structured around the zodiac and the golden mean (each chapter is half the length of the preceding one), The Luminaries weaves together the changing fates and fortunes of an entire community, one where everyone has something to hide. Rich with character and event, it is a gripping page-turner – and a unique, atmospheric world – in which readers will gladly lose themselves. It confirms Eleanor Catton’s reputation as one of the most exciting and innovative novelists writing today.
ELEANOR CATTON was born in 1985 in London, Ontario, and raised in New Zealand. Her internationially celebrated first novel, The Rehearsal, won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the Betty Trask Award, and the NZ Society of Authors' Best First Book Award, was a finalist for the Guardian First Book Award and the Dylan Thomas Writers Prize, and longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Orange Prize. She holds an MFA from the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was also an adjunct professor. She currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand.
“The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton is an entire narrative universe with its own mysterious cosmology. This exhilarating feat of literary design dazzles with masterful storytelling. Each character is a planet – complex and brilliantly revealed. Precise sensual prose illuminates greed, fear, jealousy, longing – all that it means to be human.”
—Jury citation, Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction
“A magnificent novel: awesome in its structural complexity; addictive in its story-telling; and magical in its conjuring of a world of greed and gold.”
—Robert Macfarlane, the Man Booker Prize Chair of Judges
“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. . . . Do yourself a favour and read The Luminaries. . . .”
“Irresistible, masterful, compelling. . . . The Luminaires has a gripping plot that is cleverly unravelled to its satisfying conclusion, a narrative that from the first page asserts that it is firmly in control of where it is taking us. . . . [Catton is] a mistress of plot and pacing. . . .”
—The Telegraph (5-star review)
“Every sentence of this intriguing tale set on the wild west coast of southern New Zealand during the time of its goldrush is expertly written, every cliffhanger chapter-ending making us beg for the next to begin. . . . The consummate literary page-turner. . . .”
“Note-perfect. . . . [Catton’s] authority and verve are so impressive that she can seemingly take us anywhere; each time, we trust her to lead us back. . . . A remarkable accomplishment.”
—Globe and Mail
“The Luminaries is an impressive novel, captivating, intense and full of surprises.”
—Times Literary Supplement
“Beautifully rendered. . . . Momentous. An exquisite world unto itself.”
“A finely wrought fun house of a novel. Enjoy the ride.”
—Chris Bohjalian, Washington Post
“A remarkable achievement. . . . Intricate, painstakingly detailed and deliciously readable. . . . A novel that can be enjoyed for its engrossing entirety, as well as for the literary gems bestowed on virtually every page.”
—Quill & Quire (starred review)
“A dazzling knot of interwoven lives. . . . Heart-pounding . . . .”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“As beautiful as it is triumphant.”
“A tour de force of narrative control. . . . Catton does an incredible job of bringing to life the time and place and the utter ruthlessness that greed engenders in human beings. . . .”
“Falling in love with a fictional person is one of the greatest pleasures in life, Canadian-born writer Eleanor Catton believes. By the time readers have finished The Luminaries, they will have been enchanted by many of her characters, as they slowly reveal themselves through the novel’s intriguing web of interactions and relationships.”
—Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time