Friday, December 20, 2013

Writer’s success highlights Victoria University Press

The recent success of Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton has resulted in significant international attention for Wellington-based publishing house Victoria University Press (VUP).

Ms Catton, a Victoria University of Wellington graduate, won the prestigious award for her novel The Luminaries,
which, along with her first book The Rehhearsal, is published by Victoria University-based VUP.

Fergus Barrowman, VUP’s Publisher, says within days of the Man Booker Prize announcement he received numerous manuscripts from writers, both in New Zealand and abroad.

“The success of The Luminaries has made us more visible, which is fantastic, not only for the publishing house and the University, but also for our other writers—international publishers are now much more willing to look at the books we send them,” he says.

VUP has published 28 books this year, including eight fiction titles. The Luminaries is currently the best-selling book in New Zealand with over 50,000 copies sold

“We’ve had really good reviews and strong sales—in a book trade which has been under incredible pressure, this year we’ve actually picked up.

“I think it shows that as times get tougher, the value to New Zealand culture and heritage of University publishing becomes clearer, because of the range of work we are able to promote.”

Ms Catton, recently jointly named New Zealand Herald’s New Zealander of the Year, says, “VUP is that rare thing, a press with both a head and heart, and I’m excited to think that the success of The Luminaries will mean that there’s more money to be spent on discovering new Kiwi writers.”

Mr Barrowman says VUP publishes a wide variety of writing. “We publish first books and take risks with fiction, but we’re also doing some really substantial non-fiction such as Sir Geoffrey Palmer's memoir Reform, which is our second 800-page book of the year.”

Graduates of Victoria’s International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML), where Ms Catton completed a Master of Arts in Creative Writing in 2007, and the undergraduate creative writing course which preceded its establishment, have provided many of VUP’s big successes.

Ms Catton says the IIML experience was invaluable, equipping her with the tools, vocabulary and confidence to begin to take herself seriously as a writer.

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