The long-distance call came about 8pm while Eleanor Catton was cooking dinner.
"Everything is about to change, your life is about to change," the voice from England said. By yesterday morning, her email inbox was filling with messages of congratulations.
The 27-year-old former Cantabrian, a 2007 graduate of Victoria University's International Institute of Modern Letters creative writing course, has made the longlist for the 2013 Man Booker Prize for fiction for her second novel, The Luminaries.
The Man Booker is considered one of the world's most prestigious literary award.
Catton lived in Christchurch during her teens, attending Burnside High School, and later studying English at the University of Canterbury.
The news about the Man Booker Prize came via her British publisher while she was cooking dinner at home in Auckland.
"I was just flabbergasted," she said.
She opened a bottle of pinot noir at home to celebrate after the Tuesday night phone call, then went out for breakfast yesterday morning before heading to her part-time job teaching creative writing at Manukau Institute of Technology.
Catton is the youngest writer on the list of 13 finalists.
Writers who reached high levels tended to be older, she said. "You need to read so much to kind of learn your craft . . . I read a lot as a child so maybe I got in there quite young."
The longlist will be cut down to a shortlist on September 10, when she will coincidentally be in England for the British release of The Luminaries. The winner will be named on October 15.
The book will be released in New Zealand early next month.
Wellington author Lloyd Jones was shortlisted in 2007 for Mister Pip. Fairfax NZ
- The Press