The Bone People

The Bone People 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 Set on the South Island beaches of New

  • Title: The Bone People
  • Author: Keri Hulme
  • ISBN: 9780330296106
  • Page: 419
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 paIntegrating 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 After twenty years, it continues to astonish and enrich readers around the world.

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    About “Keri Hulme

    • Keri Hulme

      Keri Hulme born 9 March 1947 is a New Zealand writer Her only novel, The Bone People, won the Booker Prize in 1985.Hulme was born in Christchurch, in New Zealand s South Island The daughter of a carpenter and a credit manager, she was the eldest of six children Her parents were of English, Scottish, and M ori Kai Tahu descent Our family comes from diverse people Kai Tahu, K ti Mamoe South Island Maori iwi Orkney islanders Lancashire folk Faroese and or Norwegian migrants, Hulme told Contemporary Women Poets Her early education was at North New Brighton Primary School and Aranui High School Her father died when she was 11 years old.Hulme worked as a tobacco picker in Motueka after leaving school She began studying for an honours law degree at the University of Canterbury in 1967, but left after four terms and returned to tobacco picking.By 1972, she decided to begin writing full time, but, despite family support, was forced to go back to work nine months later She continued writing, some of her work appearing under the pseudonym Kai Tainui During this time, she continued working on her novel, The Bone People, ultimately published in February 1984 The novel was returned by several publishers before being accepted by the Spiral Collective It won the 1984 New Zealand Book Award for Fiction and the Booker Prize in 1985 Hulme was the first New Zealander to win the Booker.Hulme was a writer in residence at the University of Otago in 1978, and at the University of Canterbury in 1985 She lives in Oamaru, in North Otago Hulme has been the Patron of New Zealand Republic since 1996 She is an aromantic asexual and an atheist from



    915 thoughts on “The Bone People

    • I have read this book 11 times. It's not because of my faulty memory (although I do have one), it is because this is my favorite fiction book of all time. The shape is unusual for a novel - it is not told in one voice or from one point of view. At times there is an omniscient narrator and at others it is told in the first person. It is the story of the journeys of three people back to the landscape of family. Sometimes free verse, sometimes standard prose, always poetic. Keri Hulme plays with th [...]


    • An original, personal and visceral novel, which for me is the kind of book that justifies the existence of the Booker Prize. The surface story is about the interactions between three difficult and damaged people, but there is a lot more to it than that - plenty of Maori culture, mythology and language (fortunately most of the latter is translated in the glossary) and a mixture of first and third person narrative voices including quite a lot of poetry. That may sound difficult, but the core story [...]


    • This novel is a shining jewel, one with a huge flaw in its centre. It is still, however, an impressive and beautiful work, and a hugely ambitious one: an attempt to create a story that marries the disparate identities—Maori and European—that make up present day New Zealand. There is a realism-based story of friendship, self-destruction, and child abuse, and there is a symbolism-filled story of healing, catharsis, and the necessary fusing of Maori and European civilisations. Each is well-told [...]


    • 4.5 starsThis was twelve years in the writing and was rejected by many publishers. It defies easy description and is very much set in the interface between Maori and western culture. There is complexity in the structure and a dose of magic realism at the end. The character of Kerewin Holmes is a remarkable creation who jumps out of the page. The novel revolves around three characters. Kerewin Holmes is a solitary woman living in a tower, a painter who does not paint and who is estranged from her [...]


    • 4.5/5A rare mix of characters and languages and emotions indeed. Gripping. Kerewin is one of my all-time favorite characters; she's everything I am and so much more. The talent and the energy and the drive. Simply beautiful. I can't forgive Joe though. I can't. (view spoiler)[I don't see any justification for his violence. Is this how males get? Is this how their logic works? It has no place in society, whatever their excuses and reasoning and past horrific experiences may be. What he did to Sim [...]


    • I out myself as a philistine, I guess, with my dislike of this painfully literary book, which I read only because I was in New Zealand and thought I ought to read a famous NZ author. Once I got past the aggressively defensive introduction (Idiosyncratic Author is idiosyncratic! I can dizzily swap first-person POV and use my own grammar and make up my own words because I am Artistic!) and the Mary-Sueish tinge of the central character being named after the author (*headdesk*), I found this bookin [...]


    • When I recommended this book to my book club several years ago, the only other woman who had read it glared at me and said "if we pick this book, I am going to be REALLY mad at you" and so I withdrew the suggestion. This winner of the Man Booker prize is painful to read. It forces the reader to consider the complexity of human nature and behavior -- how thin the line can be between love and abuse. It is set in New Zealand and is about three wounded and likeable characters - a man, a woman, and a [...]


    • The Bone People had been on my to-read shelf for almost a year, so I decided that it was a good first read of 2013. I wanted to like it; indeed, for the first hundred pages or so, I did. The language is unconventional but richly textured and evocative (and exotic to this American boy). This was enough that I didn't notice some major flaws until I was too far in to quit reading. Once I noticed them, however, they were impossible to un-notice.My first problem with the book is that one slowly reali [...]


    • I cannot put my finger on why I love this book. I didn't really think it all that special when I read it, but it has stayed in my mind so vividly when many a lesser book has dissipated from my memory. I think the authors descriptions are understated while being vivid. I read the book years ago and I can still remember clearly descriptions of meals cooked, of the matter-of-fact efficiency the main character displayed in her solitude. All of the characters are overtly flawed, and the author doesn' [...]


    • So, okay, Ms. Hulme, I already felt rather suffocated by your novel throughout the book, but you really tried to strangle me with your final chapters. I was going to rate the novel 3 stars. However, after those last chapters, I will now grant it a mere one star plus another one for the rather picturesque writing throughout the book.Let me explain. I rather liked the sing-song quality of the narrative and in particular the inserted little snippets of poetry, contemplations and lamentations. What [...]


    • I read this as part of my self-declared New Zealand November in 2015. It checks of a few boxes for me - Oceania 2015, a Man Booker Prize winner (I'd like to read them all eventually) from 1985, female author, etc. Keri Hulme is also part Maori, which made this a deeper cultural read about the country.From the publisher's description, I was expecting a pretty straight-forward novel: "In a tower on the New Zealand sea lives Kerewin Homes, part Maori, part European, an artist estranged from her art [...]


    • I am a not overly enthusiastic about this book. Although some parts were beautifully written and engaging, in the end it failed to convince me. The book deals with difficult issues, i,e. inter-familial violence, child abuse and alcoholism. Hulme paints a vivid, realistic picture and the characters (even the abusive stepfather) are not 'black and white'. But the 'hollywood-ending', where all is hopeful and the abusive father is reformed, didn't ring true to me. Still, for readers interested in Ma [...]


    • I read this book not long after it's release. I remembered it having a slow start and then building up to a shattering climax.The scenes that had an impact for me still do. This book does a wonderful job of exploring a complex relationship that was both loving & violent. (view spoiler)[ I wish I could say Joe's prison sentence was unrealistically short. But I can't. (hide spoiler)] Some of the prose was quite beautiful & I didn't mind the liberties Hulme took with descriptive words. Ther [...]


    • The ocean was the only song in the book that I enjoyed.That said, it was a fascinating insight, but, like a door you never wished you opened. Hulme is a gifted wordsmith, rich, evocative language that paints a harsh and salt-stained landscape, which really gives a sense of New Zealand's vast wild spaces, also the staggering alcoholism, racial tensions and blithe brutality. . From a strictly objective point of view the story is stunning. Truly. Unfortunately, it is drawn out. Reading about people [...]


    • The Bone People is, quite simply, the most powerful, moving, stunning book I have ever read. The characters are well drawn. I wanted to hate Joe, but he was in so much pain that I couldn't, really. I never excused what he did - and Hulme did not ask the reader to do that. She challenges the reader to look at our society as a whole; to see what we do to people and how we as communities play a role in creating some of the violent, terrible situations that result in children being abused. I know th [...]


    • 3.5 rounded up. I first read this book in the early 90's and I didn't remember that much of the story but I remember living it. This time it was on track to be a 5 star read until I got to the last part and then it just went off the rails for me. Sometimes I really enjoy rereads and sometimes I think they are a terrible idea.


    • It was a gloomy and stormy night, a mute 7 year old boy, Simon shows at the hermit Kerewin’s tower. The next morning his adoptive father, Joe came to pick him up. Because Simon couldn’t explain his motives, Kerewin has to rely on Joe to tell their curious story. A storm earlier that year sees Simon wash up on a beach with no memory or clue of his identity. Joe and his now deceased wife took the troubled boy in, but the traumatised boy is just too hard to cope with.The Maori people use bones [...]


    • Sheet and apricocks what the berloody hell was that?!This is one of the weirdest, most evocatively written and engaging books I’ve read in a very long time. The inventiveness of the language is just staggering. For the first third or so I was completely hooked and thought I’d discovered another all-time favourite, but it missed out on a five-star rating from me because the pace slowed in the middle third and then the final third was frankly just mad.The book is about Kerewin Holmes (the auth [...]


    • I can't really say that I liked this book. I read it, and didn't get bored or dislike reading it. I did not however learn much from the book or feel a whole lot after reading it. I liked the earlier parts of the book when Kerewin's narration was more dominant. Toward the end, after Joe beat up Simon I stopped liking the book at all. Joe's encounter with the wise man kind of left me scratching my head, and from then on the book went down hill. Kerewin's redemption in the end bothered me because i [...]


    • One of my all-time favourites. A quirky book, very New Zealand - they produce some.unusual books and films here. The national psyche here isbleaker - and darker - than would perhaps appear to the observer. At least, that is true if you look at the creative output with my (jaded?) eye!If you would like to see what I mean, watch 'The Piano', 'Once Were Warriors' and 'Whale Rider' - which last is not so much dark as steeped in 'otherness'. This novel speaks so clearly to me of the New Zealand psych [...]


    • This was a very difficult read for me. There are a few reasons for this but chiefly it is because this story is devastating. We have a bizarre world and narrative to wade through, limericks and soliloquies, mysticism, maori history (and language) all combined with insanity. Three main characters who are out of their minds. Put this all together and a fresh, quirky story could be delivered but that's not what happened here. All of this was injected into the very real and horrifying reality of chi [...]


    • This was my second time of reading The Bone People. I remember loving it the first time around, but I also remember thinking that it was flawed in many little ways (the very beginning, the sketchy end, the way the story's strands seem to escape Keri Hulme in the last third) yet whenever I've stumbled upon it on GR I kept being surprised at my 4*rating, since there's many five* reads that I remember much less and that had less of an emotional impact on me. I think this time I've surrendered to my [...]


    • I have a feeling this book is going to haunt me for a very long time. Given that, I should bump my rating up a little higher. Except the writing style was very different from anything I've read before. I did get the hang of it eventually except that I was confused by the Mauri language (in spite of the dictionary at the back) and the symbolism.The themes of alcoholism and child abuse were disturbing. The characters weren't all that likeable, and yet, in some strange way, I grew to like them in a [...]


    • What a strange style Hulme has used to present her story. It took me probably 15 or 20 pages to figure out how to read this book. But once it opened for me--wow! By page 34, I love both Kerewin (artist (estranged from her art), exile (from her family), dislikes people, especially children) and Simon (the child, naturally, speechless, which is less expected). By the half-way point Hulme has moved away from the sunny view of "cranky loner woman falls in love with strange child and all is happy." N [...]


    • i loved this book so much! i don't know why it's taken me so long to write this post, since i've been wanting to rave about the book since i finished it. i was a bit dubious when i read the introductory note about it having non-standard grammar etc, but it was so good! i think i even liked it enough to kick cryptonomicon off my literary speed dating list, except that i don't think it would create the right impression the language is beautiful and the characters are wonderfully real and complex. [...]


    • Read this for Intro English my freshman year and recently re-read it. The book centers around three main characters, but their relationship with one another is best left up to the reader to determine as the story unfolds.Hulme is a self-identified bicultural writer, which makes The Bone People a bicultural text, incorporating both Maori and Pakeha influences within the New Zealand setting. According to my professor: "One of Hulme's high school teachers, responding to her writing, told her her wr [...]


    • I don't hate it. Therefore, the two stars.I do wish I understood it. I am sure that this story was written about three people and a culture I do not understand.It was an interesting experiment in a writing style all the author's own. It was just too vague and cryptic for me to appreciate.


    • 3.5 starsI wanted to like this one much more than I ultimately did. It oozes with the mystic and aura that is New Zealand; there are some really lovely poetic passages and most of the characters are well thought out and executed. Maybe it is that note – most of the characters; maybe it was the occasional intrusive Maori word or statement that didn’t feature in the glossary and couldn’t be gleaned from the other statements around it?I shall deal with the negative, so I can end with the posi [...]


    • The story and the characters are amazing. The combination of dialogue and interior monologue helps carry the story with a minimum of narration. I like that.This book is more of a 4.5 stars, but it didn't rate the whole 5 because the ending was all wrapped up in a bow. All through the book I'm led slowly and there's mystery surrounding the three major characters. Then--boom! Fairy tale.


    • You know those books that you finish thinking that it was alright, but as time goes on and your mind mulls it over you begin to like it more and more? The Bone People is the opposite kind of book, to the extent that coming back to write this review I was surprised to find I had given it two stars instead of one.Where to begin with this terrible attempt at a novel? Well, the opening of poems and snippets of disjointed text without context served as a confusing start to the book, and even once you [...]


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