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WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE FOR FICTION 2013
It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky.
The Luminaries is an extraordinary piece of fiction. It is full of narrative, linguistic and psychological pleasures, and has a fiendishly clever and original structuring device. Written in pitch-perfect historical register, richly evoking a mid-19th century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust, it is also a ghost story, and a gripping mystery. It is a thrilling achievement and will confirm for critics and readers that Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international writing firmament.
Perspectives of minds
Usually you look at a book's characters from outside the story. In this book however you find yourself in the middle of an ugly gold digger's town and listening to the thoughts of quite a few people. This is the more surprising due to the fact that they were living some 150 years ago. It's ever so real that you start dreaming of Moody, Anne and the others. Their stories don't let you go, they stay with you even when you close the book.
A second terrific thing is the build of the narrative. How it begins with the invention of this meeting of those men and then spreads out all these intimate fireworks of interlaced destinies. The delicate disclosure of characters and perspectives of minds.