SHE might not be the bookies’ favourite, but New Zealand author Eleanor Catton has been singled out as one of the likely winners of this year’s Man Booker Prize.
The 28-year-old’s novel The Luminaries is one of six shortlisted for the prestigious literary prize and the winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on Wednesday morning (NZ time).
Catton’s 823-page book has been described as a “Kiwi Twin Peaks” – an astrological mystery set in 1866 Hokitika.
If she wins, Catton will be the youngest author to take out the prize, beating current record-holder Ben Okri, who was 32 when he won in 1991.
While literary critics have pitted Catton as a frontrunner, British bookmakers are backing one of their own – Jim Crace and his novel Harvest – to win.
Paddy Power has the British author as the 5/4 favourite, while Ladbrokes has Crace at 11/8, both ahead of Catton.
But the only other Kiwi to have claimed the prize, Keri Hulme, beat the 50/1 odds to win with her novel The Bone People in 1985.
Catton was born in Canada, but her family returned to Christchurch when she was six.
The Luminaries is her second novel.
The other shortlisted authors are Colm Toibin (The Testament Of Mary), Jhumpa Lahiri (The Lowland), NoViolet Bulawayo (We Need New Names) and Ruth Ozeki (A Tale For The Time Being).
The six authors each receive STG2500 ($A4,264) with the eventual winner taking home an additional STG50,000 and world-wide fame.
The Man Booker Prize is open to writers from Britain, Ireland and the Commonwealth.