The first consumer review of the Man Booker Prize winner, The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, published here yesterday (Hachette/Little, Brown), coincidentally the day the award was announced, is by novelist Chris Bohjalian in The Washington Post. UPDATE: We’re wrong — it’s a close tie for which publication had the first U.S. consumer review. The Barnes and Noble Review released one on Oct. 15. It is also an excellent guide to appreciating the novel.
Not only is Catton the youngest person to ever win the Booker, but at over 800 pages, her book is the longest in the award’s history. Bojalian notes that he had to create his own “Cliff Notes” to keep the characters straight and that the book is “astoundingly complicated and almost defies explanation. Moreover, I can’t recall the last time I read a novel that left me so baffled. In the end, however, I was awed…”
He goes on to offer readers a handle on this Byzantine story about a group of characters in an 1860’s New Zealand gold-rush town; “the key to following the story is to try to follow the money.”
The book, which had a modest announced first print run of 15,000 copies, jumped to #10 on Amazon sales rankings on the news of the award. If it follows in the footsteps of previous award winners, it will continue on to other best seller lists and enjoy healthy sales here.
Many libraries are showing heavy holds on light ordering. It was only reviewed prepub after the longlist was announced by Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. Both publications starred it. It also appeared in the Millions preview of the “Most Anticipated” books of the fall.
The author’s debut, The Rehearsal (Hachette/Back Bay) received praise from author Adam Ross (“a wildly brilliant and precocious first novel”) in the NYT Sunday Book Review when it was published in 2010. It is still in print in trade paperback.