Eleanor Catton was born in 1985 in Canada and raised in New Zealand.
She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she also held an adjunct professorship, and an MA in fiction writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters. She currently lives in Auckland, New Zealand.
Her debut novel The Rehearsal (2008) was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize, and longlisted for the Orange Prize. It has since been published in 17 territories and 12 languages.
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.
CATTON, Eleanor (1985 – ) was born in Canada and raised in Canterbury. In 2007, she won the Sunday Star-Times short story competition, and in the same year she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington, winning the Adam Prize in Creative Writing for her manuscript, The Rehearsal.
Eleanor Catton won the audience award at Once Upon a Deadline, a one-day story contest in the 2008 NZ International Arts Festival Writers and Readers Week, and she was awarded the 2008 Louis Johnson New Writers Bursary. Catton was the recipient of the 2008 Glenn Schaeffer Fellowship through which she attended the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her fiction has been published in a range of journals, and magazines, including Turbine, Sport and Granta.
Her first novel, The Rehearsal was published in 2008 by Victoria University Press, and by Granta (UK) in 2009. The Rehearsal received the New Zealand Society of Authors Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction at the 2009 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Louise O’Brien described Catton in NZ Listener as ‘a new talent who has arrived fully formed, with an accomplished, confident and mature voice’.
In June 2009, The Rehearsal won the UK Society of Authors’ Betty Trask Award worth £8,000. The Rehearsal was also long-listed for the Guardian First Book Award. The Rehearsal has also been translated and published in Holland, France, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Spain, Germany, Israel and Brazil.
Justine Jordan wrote in The Guardian, ‘This astonishing debut novel from young New Zealander Eleanor Catton is a cause for surprise and celebration: smart, playful and self-possessed, it has the glitter and mystery of the true literary original. Though its impulses and methods can only be called experimental, the prose is so arresting, the storytelling so seductive, that wherever the book falls open it’s near-impossible to put down.’
Melissa Katsoulis of the The Times comments, ‘Timeframes overlap and collide in this ingenious ontological kaleidoscope of a debut, but the experimentalism — which demands that the reader keep all her wits about her — is tempered by a real knack for narrative and a cast of painfully familiar teenage characters who are all desperate to be as confident, cool, charismatic and funny as possible. These are qualities that the extraordinary Eleanor Catton has in spades.’
Eleanor Catton’s The Rehearsal was long-listed for the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction in 2010, honouring female authors in the English language. It also won the Amazon.ca First Novel award 2011.
She was a 2010 Arts Foundation New Generation Award recipient. Catton was awarded the 2012 University of Auckland Residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre.
Eleanor Catton’s second novel The Luminaries was published by Victoria University Press and Granta in 2013, and won the prestigious 2013 Man Booker Prize.