Eleanor Catton has had a few days to reflect on what she has said, and how the matter has been analysed and discussed.
Here is her written apology to the government and the people of New Zealand in general
In the past twelve months I have travelled to England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Sweden, Spain, Canada, the United States, Australia, Brazil, and most recently India, attending literary festivals and helping to launch foreign-language editions of The Luminaries. To be read and received in different contexts around the world is an unbelievable privilege, one that is constantly shaping and reshaping my relationship with New Zealand, with my book, and with myself. My Maori characterâs storyline took on a new significance for me after reading to First Nation elders in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I thought about the Hokitika gold rush differently after exploring the Brazilian coastal town of Paraty, where Brazilian gold, dug by slaves many miles inland, was once shipped out by the ton to Portugal. Talking about astrology in India, and about the nineteenth-century novel in Sweden, and about fiction born of philosophy in France, altered my sense of howÂ The Luminaries fits in with other literary traditions and cultural histories around the world. I have seen also how the novel itself changes according to context: its social and sexual politics, its formal preoccupations, its attitude to history, its language, all become more or less audacious, more or less difficult, more or less successful, more or less interesting, in different parts of the world. The degree of familiarity that international readers have with New Zealand culture and history varies greatly, but one thing remains a constant: everyone I meet who has a personal connection to New Zealand will make sure to tell me all about it, sometimes at length and into a microphone of which they will not let go. I love these moments of connection and the conversation they bring. I am proud that the book is read by people whose lives do not resemble mine, and I am grateful for the opportunity to speak publicly about reading and writing, two of the things I love most. Like everybody I sometimes say things I donât mean and mean things I donât say, but throughout the hundreds of interviews that I have conducted since The Luminaries was published I have been conscious of my role as an ambassadorâof my country, yes, but also of my gender, of my generation, and of my art. Â Â Read more »