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The Bone People by Keri Hulme
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The Bone People (1984)

by Keri Hulme

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (60)  Dutch (4)  Danish (1)  German (1)  All languages (66)
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
The Bone People / Keri Hulme
2 stars

Simon is a little boy and is mute. When he comes across Kerewin, an artist, he seems to like her and wants to spend time with her. Simon's “foster” father (though it's not offical) is a Maori man, Joe. The three get to know each other.

I did not like the style of writing and that put me off right away. I skimmed through most of it. The most interesting parts for me involved Simon's interactions with Kerewin, and Simon on his own. There were seemingly inexplicable indented paragraphs throughout the book; I'm sure the indents were supposed to indicate something, but I never figured it out. There were a couple of sections at the end that were a little more interesting, but overall, I really didn't like it. ( )
  LibraryCin | Nov 2, 2014 |
Really enjoyed re-reading this after 20 years - feel I connected with it and understood it much more this time around . ( )
  SarahStenhouse | Oct 2, 2014 |
Set in New Zealand, Kerewin is a reclusive artist living alone in a tower by the sea. One day a young mute boy named Simon shows up at her home and soon insinuates himself into her life. Simon’s stepfather Joe finishes out the odd trio of troubled souls. Together they make a strange family of sorts, but the darker undertones in their relationships soon bubble to the surface.

I’ve never read anything quite like Hulme’s style. It’s a blend of narrative, inner monologue, and poetry. Some parts feel like stream of consciousness, in others we hear what someone is thinking while someone else is talking to them. Usually a style of writing that chaotic would really bother me, but somehow all of the distinct elements work well together and create the tone for the whole novel.

The odd group of characters that doesn’t quite fit anywhere manages to fit together quite nicely. The subject material is tough; child abuse and alcoholism are two of the main issues dealt with in the story. I felt like there were many unanswered questions in the plot and the final third of the novel felt a bit confusing to me.

BOTTOM LINE: One of the most unique novels I’ve ever read. I’m glad I read it if for no other reason than that. I did love seeing Maori culture through a new lens and getting to know Kerewin and Simon. I wish the end had been easier to follow, but the regardless it was a singular reading experience.

There is a glossary of Maori words in the back of the book, but it isn’t alphabetized so I couldn’t ever find what I was looking for as I read the book. ( )
  bookworm12 | Aug 13, 2014 |
A writing style that anywhere else I would have found pretentious worked beautifully here. This is one of those rare things in my experience, a Booker winner that I really feel deserved it. Hints of magical realism but some all-too-hard reality, too. A memorable read. ( )
  lexieconyngham | Jul 28, 2014 |
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 gut which told me that this book might be like my bookshelf. I love it dearly, self-built as it is, but it isn't really what anyone would call a neatly build shelf. Yet I would sing it's praise (the book's and the shelf's) at every chance that I get.

Hulme is a wonderful storyteller and her language - though odd at times - is very powerful.
One of the things that most impressed me about this book is the warmth Keri Hulme has for her deeply damaged characters, without ever using the soft-focus-lens on their actions. It left me in an interesting grey area as a reader quite often, being repulsed by / in love with these people in equal measures.

I'd recommend it highly to anyone who's interested in literature from and about New Zealand and in following the journey of three emotional shipwrecks (often odd and beautiful, sometimes odd and hard to stomache) in a story that has one foot in New Zealand-Realism and the other deep in Maori-Symbolism. ( )
1 vote jeoblivion | Dec 29, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Keri Hulmeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bok, AnnekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
In a tower on the New Zealand sea lives Kerewin Holmes, part Maori, part European, an artist estranged from her art, a woman in exile from her family. One night her solitude is disrupted by a visitor — a speechless, mercurial boy named Simon, who tries to steal from her and then repays her with his most precious possession. As Kerewin succumbs to Simon's feral charm, she also falls under the spell of his Maori foster father Joe, who rescued the boy from a shipwreck and now treats him with an unsettling mixture of tenderness and brutality. Out of this unorthodox trinity Keri Hulme has created what is at once a mystery, a love story, and an ambitious exploration of the zone where Maori and European New Zealand meet, clash, and sometimes merge. The Bone People is a work of unfettered wordplay and mesmerizing emotional complexity.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140089225, Paperback)

In a tower on the New Zealand sea lives Kerewin Holmes, part Maori, part European, an artist estranged from her art, a woman in exile from her family. One night her solitude is disrupted by a visitor—a speechless, mercurial boy named Simon, who tries to steal from her and then repays her with his most precious possession. As Kerewin succumbs to Simon's feral charm, she also falls under the spell of his Maori foster father Joe, who rescued the boy from a shipwreck and now treats him with an unsettling mixture of tenderness and brutality. Out of this unorthodox trinity Keri Hulme has created what is at once a mystery, a love story, and an ambitious exploration of the zone where Maori and European New Zealand meet, clash, and sometimes merge.

Winner of both a Booker Prize and Pegasus Prize for Literature, The Bone People is a work of unfettered wordplay and mesmerizing emotional complexity.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:54 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

This unusual novel, set in New Zealand, concentrates on three people: Kerewin Holmes, a part-Maori painter who has chosen to isolate herself in a tower she built from lottery winnings; Simon, a troubled and mysterious little boy; and Joe Gillayley, the Maori factory worker who is Simon's foster father. Elements of Maori myth and culture are woven into the novel's exploration of the passions and needs that bind these three people together, for good or ill. It's not easy reading, but the story is compelling despite its stylistic eccentricities and great length. The novel is the winner of the Pegasus Prize.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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