I'm not surprised to hear of Eleanor Catton's success. She is a singular talent. Four years ago I reviewed her first novel The Rehearsal in a blog post entitled Catton among the pigeons and, lost in a strange metaphor of my own making, said:
"This terribly-young author is already a cat-like phenomenon in the Big Book Square of the World with its greening statues of the famous and host of perching pigeons. She's won Best First Novel here and a similar award in the UK, and is lined up for more. The book reviewers and writers' festivals love her. One UK reviewer picked The Rehearsal as the future face of the novel."
There's a great write-up of Eleanor Catton's recent success by Robert Sullivan on the MIT website here where she teaches and a brief TV interview here. I'm looking forward to reading The Luminaries - at 800+ pages I will need to put some significant time aside.