Shelf Control #149: The Bone People by Keri Hulme

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!


Title: The Bone People
Author: Keri Hulme
Published: 1984
Length: 450 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

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.

How and when I got it:

I bought it years ago, probably at a library sale (like so many of the books on my shelves!).

Why I want to read it:

I’ve been hearing about The Bone People for years, and have been told repeatedly that it’s a must-read. I haven’t read much fiction set in New Zealand, and I’m fascinated by the sound of the story!

Have you read any books set in New Zealand? Any you’d recommend? Please let me know!


Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!














13 thoughts on “Shelf Control #149: The Bone People by Keri Hulme

    • Thanks for your link! I don’t think I realized that The Whale Rider was a book — I saw the movie years ago when it came out. Another book to check out!

    • I was lucky enough to go on a two-week vacation to New Zealand about 10 years ago, and have been wanting to go back ever since! Such a beautiful and fascinating place.

  1. I haven’t read any books based in New Zealand either. I thought The Light Between Oceans was based there, but I just looked it up and that’s Australia. Oh well, looks like another book is on my TBR list!

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