Wellington (AFP) - New Zealand Prime Minister John Key led tributes Wednesday to author Eleanor Catton after her novel "The Luminaries" won the Man Booker Prize, describing it as a "truly amazing achievement".
Catton, 28, became the youngest Booker winner and only the second New Zealander to claim the prestigious prize for fiction, after Keri Hulme's "The Bone People" won in 1985.
?This is a hugely significant achievement on the world stage for a New Zealander,? Key said in a statement, adding that Catton's youth made the win "even more extraordinary".
"This will be a tremendous boost for young New Zealanders in the arts and is a testament to the obvious talent and hard work of Eleanor Catton.?
Catton's publisher Fergus Barrowman of Victoria University Press praised the Booker judges for selecting the 832-page doorstopper, the longest novel to ever win the prize.
He said it was a "big, ambitious book written by a fearlessly intelligent and talented writer" that would help lift the profile of other New Zealand authors.
"It's fantastic, you can sort of hear the doors creaking open ... a success like this is a reminder that books can come from anywhere," he told Radio New Zealand.
"Often the most interesting, the freshest and most lively books come from outside the main centres, it's going to do a great deal for other New Zealand writers."
Catton told the New Zealand Listener magazine this month that her second novel took three years to write and another two to research.
The Auckland-based writer said she had considered how the Â£50,000 ($80,000) winner's cheque and global exposure presented by the prize could change her life.
"What a sum of money this size means is that essentially it's a temptation to leave behind an earlier version of yourself," she said.
"But it's a treacherous temptation because obviously we can't do that at all."
There was also some amusement among New Zealanders that Canada had been quick to claim Catton as their own.
She was born in Ontario while her father, a Kiwi academic, was completing a doctorate at the University of Western Ontario, then moved to New Zealand at age six.
"I feel very much a New Zealander," she told Fairfax Media last week.