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The Bone People

The Bone People

4.4 7
by Keri Hulme
     
 

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Integrating both Maori myth and New Zealand reality, The Bone People became the most successful novel in New Zealand publishing history when it appeared in 1984. Set on the South Island beaches of New Zealand, a harsh environment, the novel chronicles the complicated relationships between three emotional outcasts of mixed European and Maori heritage. Kerewin Holmes is

Overview

Integrating both Maori myth and New Zealand reality, The Bone People became the most successful novel in New Zealand publishing history when it appeared in 1984. Set on the South Island beaches of New Zealand, a harsh environment, the novel chronicles the complicated relationships between three emotional outcasts of mixed European and Maori heritage. Kerewin Holmes is a painter and a loner, convinced that "to care for anything is to invite disaster." Her isolation is disrupted one day when a six-year-old mute boy, Simon, breaks into her house. The sole survivor of a mysterious shipwreck, Simon has been adopted by a widower Maori factory worker, Joe Gillayley, who is both tender and horribly brutal toward the boy. Through shifting points of view, the novel reveals each character's thoughts and feelings as they struggle with the desire to connect and the fear of attachment.

Compared to the works of James Joyce in its use of indigenous language and portrayal of consciousness, The Bone People captures the soul of New Zealand as it continues to astonish and enrich readers around the world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Winner of the 1985 Booker Prize, this novel by a New Zealander of Maori, Scottish and English ancestry focuses on three peopleone Maori, one European and one of mixed bloodwho are locked together in animosity and love. Although Hulme sometimes is sidetracked into self-indulgent verbiage, ``she has abundant, enticing stories to tell of culturally split lives,'' PW found. (October)
Library Journal
This is quite a first novel. The ending is revealed at its mysterious beginning; exotic line breaks and poetic punctuation put off at first but gradually become the best way to tell the tale; the Maori vocabulary is interwoven with contemporary British, Australian, and American idioms; and the New Zealand sea- and landscape vibrate under fresh perception. Hulme shifts narrative points of view to build a gripping account of violence, love, death, magic, and redemption. A silverhaired, mute, abused orphan, a laborer heavy with sustained loss, and a brilliant intro spective recluse discover, after enormous struggle through injury and illness, what it means to lose and then regain a family. No wonder The Bone People won the Pegasus Prize. Highly recommended. Rhoda Yerburgh, Adult Degree Program, Vermont Coll., Montpelier
From the Publisher
"This book is just amazingly, wondrously great."
—Alice Walker

"An original, overwhelming, near-great work of literature"
The Washinton Post Book World

"Unforgettably rich and pungent"
—The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140089226
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/28/1986
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
1,150,333
Product dimensions:
5.08(w) x 7.74(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Keri Hulme, a Maori, grew up in Christchurch and Moeraki, New Zealand. She writes, paints, and whitebaits in Okarito, Westland. Hulme has written poems and short stories; The Bone People, originally published by Spiral, a New Zealand feminist collective, is her first novel. She has also written Te Zaihau: The Windeater.

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