The Bone People

( 7 )

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 ...
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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.

Winner of the 1985 Booker Prize

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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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143116455
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/29/2010
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 171,981
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Keri Hulme is of Maori, Scottish, and English ancestry and grew up in Christchurch and Moeraki, New Zealand. She has worked as a fish-'n'-chip cook, tobacco picker, woolen mill winder, census taker, journalist, postmistress, and television director. In 1983 she became a full-time writer. Through a government lottery, she won a plot of land on a remote Westland coast, where she erected an octagonal-shaped dwelling and settled in. She writes, paints, and fishes and has published seven books.

LSU Press

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 15, 2008

    Great book

    I've read this book a number of times, I return to it every few years. The first reading nearly destroyed me, because the content is so emotionally disturbing. Child abuse is never a good time, though the other presiding themes of isolation and the human capacity for love and forgiveness redeem it from the realm of senseless violence. At a certain point in the first reading I was so absorbed in the psyche of the characters that I found myself completely invested, and could not have walked away if I'd tried. It is the mark of a great book to be so wholly effected by it....good or bad, but never indifferent. I have to admit that I have never liked the ending, but the journey to that point is one you can't soon forget. This book will not be for everyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2003

    The Bone People

    This extraordinary psychological study and excursion into the deep and sometimes surreal recesses of New Zealands Maori culture, took Hulme ten years to write, and justifiably won the Booker. Hulme invests the book with her own wholly original style and lexicon, and achieves an aura of deep, exotic mystery against a bleak yet engaging interpersonal narrative, while working both the maori and english languages in new and startling ways. From New Zealand's rugged and inaccessible west coast, she crafts a multilayered fable about a location few people have ever been, and achieves a wholly unique time, place and sensibility. A major work of art on many levels, it is fundamentally an experiential masterpiece, leaving you slightly melancholic but profoundly awed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2002

    The Bone People

    An excellent, unsettling piece of artistry. Frightening at times, but more often terribly human. It is a book you go back and read again and again, without ever realising it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2001

    INTENSE, JARRING, A MASTERPIECE

    This novel is so intense, so well-written, and so thoroughly amazing... and so important. An example of some of the best, most original writing out there. You are truly taken into the story, and profoundly affected by it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2000

    Amazing style

    One of my favorite books ever. When this story takes you it doesn't let you go. Unusually and beautifully written. As a reader I had to stop and wonder, 'how did she do that?' Very well!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2000

    The Bone People: What a book!!!

    The Bone People is a novel that makes you want to keep reading. Keri Hulme lets you get so into the characters that you're telling them what they should and shouldn't do. Once you start reading this book, the Maorian culture becomes a part of you. Hulme uses effective ways to catch the reader's attention. The book was so good I didn't want it to end. I wish I knew what would happen next! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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