How The Bone People changed the way we read
Striking, poetic and magnificent - or lamentable, unreadable, and indefensible? Discover the story behind The Bone People - one of the most divisive novels in Booker Prize history.
Keri Hulme’s Booker Prize-winning novel focusses on the mysterious relationships between three unorthodox outsiders of mixed Maori and European heritage.
One New Zealand night, artist in exile Kerewin’s 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 charms, 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.
About the AuthorKeri Hulme was a New Zealand author and poet, principally known for her first novel, The Bone People, which won the 1985 Booker Prize. She died on December 27th 2021.
Keri Hulme was away in America when she won the Booker Prize in 1985, so the award was collected on her behalf by Irihapeti Ramsden, Marian Evans and Miriama Evans of her publisher Spiral.
Ramsden and Miriama Evans walked up to the podium wearing Maori korowai, while Marian Evans wore a tuxedo, and chanted a Maori karanga as they went.
Hulme received a phone call, broadcast live on television, to tell her she’d won the Booker Prize. Her reaction was forthright: ‘You’re not pulling my leg, are you? Bloody hell.’