Her epic 832-page novel was recognised at London’s Guildhall.Reviewing the novel in the Guardian, Kirsty Gunn noted: “Apparently a classic example of 19th-century narrative, set in the 19th century, with all the right-sounding syntax, clothing and props, the project twists into another shape altogether … perfectly constructed as the consummate literary page-turner.”
Catton wrests the youngest winner honour from Ben Okri, who was 32 when The Famished Road won in 1991. Kiran Desai was previously the youngest woman to win, at 35, with The Inheritance of Loss in 2006.
Caton is also the second New Zealander to win the £50 000 (about R796 000) prize, following Keri Hulme in 1985 with The Bone People.
This is also a first win for independent publisher Granta.