Eleanor Catton, the youngest ever winner of the Booker Prize for her period saga The Luminaries, has established a grant to provide the next generation of writers with “time to read.” Catton has funded the grant from proceeds from her Booker win.
The New Zealand author has strategically refrained from naming the grant “in case a nice philanthropist hears about this and would like to lend their name and support to the project.”
Explaining that she herself was now in the “extraordinary position of being able to make a living from my writing alone, something I never dreamed was possible” Catton set up the grant to give recipients “the means and opportunity not to write, but to read, and to share what they learn through their reading with their colleagues in the arts.”
“Writers are readers first,” she continued. “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.”
Catton would ask for very little in return for her prize’s sum of $3000. “My idea is that if a writer is awarded a grant,” she said, “after three months they will be expected to write a short piece of non-fiction about their reading (what was interesting to them, what they learned) that will be posted online so that others can benefit from their reading too.”
Set during New Zealand’s 19th-century gold rush, The Luminaries focuses on twelve men’s efforts to solve the mystery behind a series of crimes.