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The Bone People by Keri Hulme

I was told to read this book for a module at university called ‘Postcolonial Fiction and Film’. I rarely share the books I read at university on my blog, mainly because a lot of them aren’t exactly casual reads (middle English, Shakespeare etc). However, occasionally I get to do modules where we get to read more modern, more accessible texts.

The Bone People is one of them, and I enjoyed it so much that I want to share it with you.

About the plot


Kerewin is a recluse, and lives in a tower near the beach. She continues to live her life with three activities: drinking, fishing and thinking. Although some form of family feud is hinted at, the reasons for her choice to live alone are seemingly selfish.

Kerewin appears bitter and twisted, and when the mute Simon appears on her doorstep during a thunderstorm one day it is actually a wonder that she doesn’t turn his scrawny behind onto the street.

The plot progresses, and the story unfolds into a great big mix of emotions, arguments and struggles. Both Kerewin, Simon and his father struggle to find their identity. The novel progresses into a really deep plot that engages both the mind and the heart.

Why you should read it & my personal response

Whilst the novel itself it pretty chunky, the plot doesn’t labour. It is quite fast moving and as you would expect, each chapter marks a new discovery. I prefer this style of writing to those kind of novels that dollop information onto you at random points, for this reason, the novel itself is impossible to put down.

Once I’d got past the first chapter I was constantly thinking about the novel, and when I came towards the end I couldn’t put it down until I finished.

The writing itself (from an analysis point of view) is fantastic. It’s resistance to any kind of uniformity makes it a riveting read. The words literally come alive on the page, and as a result the characters jump from the page and live out of the book and in front of your eyes. For example, the novel consists of melds, (like bluegreen instead of blue-green) which illustrate the tangibility of the objects described.

Although the first few pages may feel foreign in your mouth, push through and you’ll find yourself speaking a language that is completely unique – a special experience between you, the author and the characters in the book.

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