"And it’s not even a novel in the normal sense, but rather a mass confabulation that evaporates in front of us, an astrological divination waning like the moon, the first section 360 pages long (or are those degrees?), the last a mere sliver. But it’s a sliver that delivers.," writes Bill Roorbach. Oct. 16, 2013, The New York Times.
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Eleanor Catton was born in 1985 in Canada and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand. She won the 2007 Sunday Star-Times short-story competition, the 2008 Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship to the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the 2008 Louis Johnson New Writers' Bursary and was named as one of Amazon's Rising Stars in 2009. Her debut novel, The Rehearsal, won the Betty Trask Prize, the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, the NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, the Prix Femina literature award, the abroad category of the Prix Médicis, the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize 2010 and Stonewall's Writer of the Year Award 2011, and longlisted for the Orange Prize 2010. In 2010 she was awarded the New Zealand Arts Foundation New Generation Award.
The Luminaries won the 2013 Booker Prize for fiction.
Author Quotes: "The zodiac is a system a person can play with and see meaning in," Catton explains, adding that it helped the writing. "I wasn't starting from a blank page, because I was starting from forms." Each character is tied to a sign of the zodiac, and it informs their personality and story. "The nice thing about the zodiac as a system is it is quite comprehensive as a range of impulses and psychological states it can speak about."
― Eleanor Catton from an interview with Nick Clark, The Independent Wednesday, October 16, 2013
is reading "The Luminaries" written by Eleanor Catton for June 26, 2014.
O Fortune, like the moon of ever changing state, you are always waxing or waning; hateful life is one moment brutal, and the next moment favors the gambler; poverty, power, all melts like ice. - Carl Orff's "O Fortuna," from Carmina Burana
The astrological themed novel, The Luminaries takes place in the southernmost edge of the civilized earth in Hokitika, New Zealand during the 1860s gold rush. The tale begins on January 27, 1866, a day when there was a triple convergence in the heavens, three planets in Sagittarius: a rich man has disappeared; a prostitute has been found near death in the street; and a supposedly penniless hermit who turns out to have been very rich dies suspiciously. A secret council of twelve men gather to solve the mystery.
A stranger named Walter Moody, arrives at a hotel, and unknowingly interrupts a secret meeting. He is queasy and disturbed after a horror filled journey on the ship, Godspeed. He witnessed a disturbing event on Godspeed. It involved a bloody cravat, a clutching silver hand, and the name Magdalena gasped out of the darkness. And a voyage that started with 8 passengers and ends with 9, one he believes is an apparition.
The novel looks at life through the eye of the moon and the lunar cycle. The lunar cycle or great round is associated with fate and things coming back again endlessly repeating. And like in a play, the characters are bound to the Wheel of Fortune and Time. Viewing life through the eye of the moon entails looking backward to the past, facing the dark of the moon before new birth and new potential can emerge.
The first section occurs during the full moon when things come into the light and fruition. The novel’s subsequent chapters wane, like the moon, they grow smaller, thinner and darker. After the full moon, the chapters moves through the crescent, and a time of promise and impregnation. As the story continues through the phases of the moon to the past, it leads to the moment, the hidden beginning when the seed of the story was sown in the dark.