- New Zealander Eleanor Catton, 28, wins Man Booker Prize for "The Luminaries"
- The murder mystery is set on New Zealand's West Coast during the 1860s gold rush
- Catton is three years younger than the previous youngest winner
- At 832 pages, her book was also the longest novel to win the prestigious award
(CNN) -- New Zealand writer Eleanor Catton has made history as the youngest ever winner of the Man Booker Prize, the most prestigious literary prize in the Commonwealth, with her second novel, "The Luminaries.
The 28-year old's book, a murder mystery set on of New Zealand's remote, forbidding West Coast during the 1860s gold rush and featuring seances, opium and a dead hermit, was described by the judges at the time it was shortlisted as a "Kiwi Twin Peaks."
The chair of judges Robert Macfarlane said it was a "dazzling work, luminous, vast" and "extraordinarily gripping."
"The characters are in New Zealand to make and to gain -- the one thing that disrupts them is love," he said.
He also praised the poise demonstrated by the young writer, who began the book aged 25 and completed it at the age of 27. "Maturity is evident in every sentence, in the rhythms and balances. It is a novel of astonishing control."
Accepting the award at London's Guildhall Tuesday, Catton joked about her 832-page book's length -- 160 pages longer than the previous longest winner of the prize.
"I've actually just had to buy a new handbag because my old handbag wasn't big enough to fit my book," she said, before thanking her publishers for allowing her to pursue her complex, lengthy "publisher's nightmare" by freeing her from commercial pressures.