Booker Prize Winner Keri Hulme Always a Storyteller

Keri Hulme, the New Zealander whose 1984 novel The Bone People won the Man Booker Prize, has died at her home in Waimate, South Canterbury. She was 74. Hulme worked as a tobacco picker, dropped out of law school and was a charity worker before becoming an unusual literary star when The Bone People, her first novel, won one of fiction’s greatest prizes, it was reported in The Washington Post.

The novel was rejected by several publishers before being picked up by the obscure publisher Spiral, a New Zealand feminist collective.

Hulme took almost 20 years to produce The Bone People, which drew on her indigenous Māori and Scottish heritage, weaving themes of personal and cultural isolation. She was New Zealand’s first Booker Prize winner. She later shunned the spotlight, the Washington Post reports.

Hulme, who changed the spelling of her first name, held a variety of odd jobs while writing The Bone People, her only published novel. She also wrote poetry and a collection of short stories.

“There were stories of her being this literary giant,” Hulme’s nephew Matthew Salmons told Stuff. “It wasn’t really something that she discussed.

“It was never about fame for her. She’s always been a storyteller. It was never about the glitz and glam, she just had stories to share.”

Original article by The Washington Post, December 30, 2021.

Tags: Keri Hulme  The Bone People  Washington Post (The)  

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