Writer back in 'spiritual' home

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 05:00 13/03/2014
eleanor catton
BACK IN HOKITIKA: Eleanor Catton.

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While Man Booker prizewinner Eleanor Catton does not hark from the small West Coast town of Hokitika, her novel The Luminaries is set in its 1860s gold rush heyday.

Catton, of Auckland, spent much time in Hokitika's streets while creating the 832-page book, but this week's eagerly expected visit will be her first since Christmas 2012.

Five months ago, at age 28, she became the youngest person to win the award for the best fiction novel in the United Kingdom, Commonwealth and Republic of Ireland in its 45-year history.

Hokitika Museum was to be one of her first stops yesterday evening ahead of tonight's "An Evening with Eleanor Catton" at the Regent Theatre, where she will hold an hour-long talk with British publisher Max Porter about her novel and answer questions from the audience.

British television producer Andrew Woodhead is also accompanying her. He plans to make a TV series based on The Luminaries.

Yesterday, museum director Julia Bradshaw spent time digging out original copies of The West Coast Times dating back to 1866, the year in which most of the novel was based.

The museum was also preparing a flip-book of local photos of that era, matched with quotes from the book.

"We get a lot of people who have read the book and are now here to see what they can see." While many aspects of The Luminaries were historically accurate, she said people tended to forget it was fiction. "People are coming in and asking to see the site of a specific building but it's a fictitious building."

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