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The Luminaries winner gives away riches

The Luminaries winner gives away riches

Eleanor Catton will use the prize money she won at this year’s New Zealand Post Book Awards to set up a new reading grant to support New Zealand writers.

Ms Catton’s novel The Luminaries won the fiction category and also took home the people’s choice award.

Ms Catton announced the new grant in her acceptance speech. It will be the only grant of its kind in this country—a sum of money that supports writers by allowing them time for structured reading which, Ms Catton says, is a crucial part of writing.

“Writers are readers first; indeed our love of reading is what unites us above all else. If our reading culture in New Zealand is dynamic, diverse, and informed, our writing culture will be too.”

Ms Catton said she had not yet named the grant “in case a nice philanthropist hears about this and would like to lend their name and support”.

Earlier this month, publisher of The Luminaries Victoria University Press, announced that the novel had sold over 117,000 copies in its first year in New Zealand alone. Ms Catton has had speaking engagements at literary festivals held around the world including in Brazil, India, the United Kingdom and Canada.

“I find myself now in the extraordinary position of being able to make a living from my writing alone, something I never dreamed was possible. It seems only right to do as Emery Staines would do, and start giving this fortune away,” said Ms Catton.

Emery Staines is a character in The Luminaries who wins big on the West Coast goldfields.

Ms Catton said it was an honour to be awarded the fiction prize.

“I’d like to thank my publishing family and the readers who have supported The Luminaries. The response to the book has been phenomenal and I’m so grateful for the support I’ve had.”

Ms Catton will be speaking at the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival taking place from 27 – 31 August.


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