In 1866, a young man arrives from England to join the gold rush under way in New Zealand. In a hotel lounge, he comes upon 12 men discussing a crime that's just occurred.

It sounds simple enough, but what unfolds in the novel "The Luminaries" is what one reviewer called a mass confabulation, a tale of mystery and love, astrology, frontier justice, Victorian and very modern storytelling, and much more.

Author Eleanor Catton is from New Zealand, and at age 28 is the youngest writer ever to win the Booker Prize.