Modern masterpiece turns 25

It’s a day to remember one of the most successful writers that Christchurch has ever produced – Keri Hulme. Her novel The Bone People was first published 25 years ago today in 1984, winning the New Zealand Book Award for fiction in that year and The Booker Prize in 1985.

Not bad for a former tobacco picker, who quite literally dreamed her material up. I’d encourage you to revisit this book, or read it if you haven’t. It’s a challenging book in many respects, but also a piece of writing that is quite stunning in its scope. And if reading it is challenging, imagine what it was like to wrestle with in your head while you were writing it.

So happy birthday to The Bone People, and thanks Keri Hulme – hope the whitebait season’s been kind to you.

4 thoughts on “Modern masterpiece turns 25

  1. yogi bear 30 October 2009 / 4:22 pm

    I’ve noticed over the years that people can get a bit mocking about the Bone People, almost a possibly embarressed that such a book could win the Booker. I remember really enjoying it, I had to read it on holiday as it needed my full concentration, but it was far more readable than the totally unreadable Anne Enright book from last year.

  2. joyciescotland 30 October 2009 / 5:18 pm

    I agree Yogi. I think it is a wonderful book.
    I read The Bone People before I came to live in New Zealand, at a time when I knew nada about this little kiwi land, and so unblemished by any hint of cultural cringe or tall poppy syndrome, I can say while strange and unusual The Bone People is a novel to celebrate.

  3. Herbert Badgery 2 November 2009 / 1:28 pm

    The Bone People is an amazing book. As a Kiwi, I feel proud of a NZ novel winning the Booker Prize. But as an avid reader, I claim that “Illywhacker” by Peter Carey should have won that prize back in 1985!

  4. mj 5 November 2009 / 8:16 am

    I loved The Bone People when I read it almost 15 years ago, it was magical, it was ethereal, it was intense, it was fantastic.

    However, I admit to being a bit hesitant to re-read in case my first reaction to it is no longer as powerful as it once was!

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