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The bone people : a novel
Keri Hulme
Adult Fiction HULME

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Keri Hulme had been writing for several years, little known outside New Zealand feminist and Maori literary circles. Then, during the mid-1980s, she gained international attention for her novel The Bone People. In 1984 she received the Mobil Pegasus Award for Maori Writers and the New Zealand Book of the Year Award for fiction, and, in the following year, the distinguished Booker-McConnel Prize, Britain's highest literary honor. Hulme, who was born in Christchurch, is of Maori descent on her mother's side; her father was an Englishman from Lancashire. Studying for a law degree but not completing it, she worked at various jobs before settling down to write full time. The Bone People (1984) remains Hulme's major work. Almost impossible to describe in a coherent way, the novel is a sprawling and puzzling story about a relationship between a strange child, a powerful woman named Kerewin who reluctantly takes him in, and the child's father, who treats him brutally. According to the critic Margery Fee, the implausible yet metaphoric and sophisticated structure of the text sets out "to rework the old stories that govern the way New Zealanders---both Maori (indigenous New Zealanders) and Pakeha (New Zealanders of European origin)---think about their country." Hulme has also published two books of short stories about Maori life, Lost Possessions (1985) and Te Kaihau: The Windeater (1986); the short fiction, too, incorporates the intentionally chaotic and often bombastic style that dominates The Bone People. She has written two volumes of free verse as well, The Silences Between (Moeraki Conversations) (1982) and Strands (1992). Hulme has received extensive attention from international critics who see her, as Margery Fee says, in the forefront of the "postcolonial discursive formation evolving worldwide"---that is, writers who have set out to reinvent the history of imperialism.

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main characters Kerewin Holmes
Female
Recluse
Half-Maori, half-European; introspective; compassionate; conflicted.
Artist

Simon
Male
Age: 6
Orphan
Silver-haired.

Joe Gillayley
Male
Maori
Embittered by the loss of his wife and child; adrift.
Factory worker



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