Key Pledges $36m for Eleanor Catton to Defend the Booker Prize
Satirist Steve Braunias writes the news.
First published in the December 2013 issue of Metro.
Prime Minister John Key today pledged the government would fund $36 million towards Eleanor Catton’s defence of the Man Booker Prize.
Mr Key said it was in New Zealand’s interests that Catton, 28, repeat her “stunning” win of the world’s most celebrated literary award.
“We’ve all got to get behind Ellie,” he said. “She brought the nation together and gave us that ‘feel-good’ factor which certain other allegedly top performers manifestly failed to do.
“I’m not naming any names but the $36 million we threw at Dean Barker and his crew was money down the drain.
“People say the New Zealand boat was a thrilling sight in full flight. But you could say the same of certain passages in The Luminaries, actually. Especially the astrological bits.”
He said the nation would rejoice if Catton repeated her success at the 2014 Booker Awards — and was unfazed when told that to qualify, she needed to have another novel written and published before the end of the year.
“It’s a tight deadline but $36 million can work wonders.”
And according to the latest Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll, New Zealanders overwhelmingly favour a government-funded Booker Prize challenge.
Young, cheerful singles who watched Breaking Bad, followed David Farrier on Twitter, and considered themselves part of the tense, seething, disapproving liberal mafia, were most supportive of backing the challenge at 83.4 per cent. The lowest support was measured at 15.9 per cent among young, insanely jealous singles who said they preferred Catton’s earlier work, and thought she was a bit up herself “and had gone all la-de-da”.
Mr Key said he expected a strong challenge from American authors, who were eligible for the first time to enter the Booker.
“But at the end of the day, who’ve they got? Jennifer Egan? Nah. Bron and I weren’t impressed with A Visit from the Goon Squad. Second-rate metafiction, to be quite honest with you.”