Eleanor Catton on Orange Prize long list

Last updated 15:38 17/03/2010
ROBERT KITCHIN/The Dominion Post
FINALIST: Eleanor Catton, author of the The Rehearsal.

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New Zealand first-time novelist Eleanor Catton is on the long list for the Orange Prize for Fiction honouring women writers in the English Language.

She will be up against literary heavyweights Andrea Levy and Hilary Mantel and other novelists for the coveted prize.

Catton, born in Canada in 1985 and raised in Canterbury, was nominated for her book The Rehearsal.

She completed an MA in Creative Writing at Wellington's Victoria University in 2007 winning the Adam Prize in Creative Writing for The Rehearsal.

In June, The Rehearsal won the UK Society of Authors' Betty Trask Award worth Stg8000 and it was named best first book of fiction in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards. It was also long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award

Catton is currently in the United States studying creative writing at the University of Iowa. She was the recipient of the 2008 Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship which enabled her to attend the prestigious Iowa Writers' Workshop.

In a review of Catton's novel, British newspaper The Guardian said: "This astonishing debut novel from young New Zealander Eleanor Catton is a cause for surprise and celebration: smart, playful and self-possessed, it has the glitter and mystery of the true literary original. Though its impulses and methods can only be called experimental, the prose is so arresting, the storytelling so seductive, that wherever the book falls open it's near-impossible to put down."

British writer Levy, who won the award in 2004 for Small Island about Jamaican immigrants in Britain, is nominated for The Long Song, and compatriot Mantel, the Booker Prize winner last year, is on the long list for her acclaimed historical novel Wolf Hall.

The annual prize goes to a woman writing in English, whatever her nationality. The winner receives a cheque for Stg30,000 and will be announced on June 9. The shortlist is revealed on April 20.

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- NZPA

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