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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Identity isn't Skin Deep
This is a story about three people, but it is moreover an account of a culture that has been splintered by colonialism. There were a lot of critical arguments circulating at the time of this novel's publication because there was a heavy debate over what the Maori culture should represent itself as and if this female author was doing it properly. The powerful thing about...
Published on 14 Nov 2002 by Eric Anderson

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Bone People
I bought the book to read for our Book Club as someone had recommended it. I found it quite a hard book to get into with pages of descriptive sequences and poetry, that for me, got in the way of the actual story. The characters are all quite difficult individuals and it does make quite a painful read at times and challenges perceptions about what is right and wrong...
Published on 2 July 2010 by CateSaint


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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Identity isn't Skin Deep, 14 Nov 2002
By 
Eric Anderson (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
This is a story about three people, but it is moreover an account of a culture that has been splintered by colonialism. There were a lot of critical arguments circulating at the time of this novel's publication because there was a heavy debate over what the Maori culture should represent itself as and if this female author was doing it properly. The powerful thing about the novel is that while reading it you are hardly aware of the culture representation because at the heart of the story is the conflicts of the central characters. But likewise, when you stand back to look at the novel you see is that the influence of Maori culture is everywhere present in this novel. Instead of trying to interpret these characters as cultural symbols, perhaps they should be conceived as individuals coming to terms with their own identity like anyone else. Kerewin has all the marking of the stereotypical independent artist. She even lives in a tower by the sea, but she is unable to paint. You will find her overpowering ego annoying, but I think you are meant to. Her rapture with herself is one of the things she must learn to overcome throughout the novel. All of the three main characters have a form of artistic expression that is being suppressed through a division in their identity. They must each overcome a barrier before they can truly express themselves and they can only do this together. The interactions between the characters are a masterful portrayal of the way in which close people, especially family members, can avoid some of the most obvious conflicts in their lives when to anyone else they would be quite evident. Toward the end of the novel the characters sink into an almost mythical state of being where their only hope of survival is through a reinvention of their being. This is a sharp departure from the straightforward story up until this point. But it is gradually introduced through a growing emphasis on the internal processes of the characters by narrating their thoughts.
I found it disappointing that this novel wasn't properly edited before publication. For some reason the author views this as something to boast about, but I found that a rewording of some phrases and maybe slight cuts for some of the superfluously long scenes would have added to the immense pleasure of reading this astounding novel. Still, as you can tell, it didn't detract from my enjoyment of it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and highly compelling, 6 Oct 2009
By 
BookWorm "BookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
A wonderfully strange, original, and very compelling novel. It's written in what I consider quite a poetic style - not something I usually enjoy, so for the first few pages I expected not to like it. But this is a book that gets under your skin. It's incredibly readable - unputdownable in the second half. The emotions are raw and powerful, the brutality heartbreaking. Despite it's mythical elements, it never seems whimsical or implausible - there's a firm grounding in reality.

The story centres on three very lonely, damaged people and their efforts to connect meaningfully with each other and the world - with mixed results. One is an embittered reclusive artist, another an orphaned and deeply disturbed mute child, and the third a widowed factory worker who feels that nothing in his life has worked out. I could believe in all of the characters and understand the emotions that drove them - even if their actions were sometimes terrible.

The use of Maori phrases littered throughout the story - another technique (in any language) that I'm not a fan of - actually works well here. I found myself picking up the more common words and most are used in a context that makes it easy to guess without spoiling the flow of the text. There's a translation section at the back, conveniently arranged in page order.

Overall this is a thought provoking book that manages to really say something about the nature of human relationships - love, hate, loneliness - and the need of people to be with other people. It's also very gripping. A story that is both profound and highly readable - not something you come across too often, and definitely one of the worthiest winners of the Booker Prize.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars truly stunning, 24 July 2006
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Mrs. S. Senior (derbyshire, uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
I first read this book at sixth form, and whilst the enforced reading I endured there seemed to breed a natural ill will against the titles we were given, the Bone People rose above this to become one of my favourite books of all time. testament to this is the fact that, having just re-read it for a tenth time, it is the first book I've felt compelled to review.

The characters capture you, the language seduces you - the whole thing just blows your mind. A worthy booker winner. Read it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Bone People, 2 July 2010
This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
I bought the book to read for our Book Club as someone had recommended it. I found it quite a hard book to get into with pages of descriptive sequences and poetry, that for me, got in the way of the actual story. The characters are all quite difficult individuals and it does make quite a painful read at times and challenges perceptions about what is right and wrong. Good points - interesting topic, challenging and certainly not one dimensional but on the negative side it is overly long and laden with description/dream sequences. On the whole I enjoyed it and we had great discussion at our group about it.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deep insight into human nature, 19 Jun 2007
By 
Wordsworth (Edinburgh, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
As it's been a couple of years since I read this, and my memory for detail is not so great; I can offer a review of the aspects of this book that most struck me at the time and have stayed with me since.

Firstly, I remember it being quite unlike anything I had read before, and I have read nothing like it since. The narrative style of first-person observation interspersed with thought in English and Maori is difficult to describe (I am failing miserably here!) and took a while to get used to, but lends the book a unique feel. (By the way, there is a handy Maori - English translation guide at the end which I failed to spot until I had finished the book.)

Secondly, I remember that the characters are drawn with exceptional love and understanding. Without wanting to spoil the story, I found myself empathising with them and forgiving actions and attitudes that I would normally consider incomprehensible and unforgivable.

I think I shall have to read it again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy of its Booker Prize win, 6 Mar 2014
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mucklewick (Knighton, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
This book won the Booker Prize several years back now.

And it has lost none of it's ability to draw you into an amazing culture and its people.

This is a book that I will be picking up and re-reading for many more years to come.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read, 6 Feb 2014
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DJIRL (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
Read the book while travelling through NZ. Beautifully written and an easy read. Highly recommend it. Can see why it won the Booker.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Bone People, 3 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
Found this interesting and the language is colourful, poetic at times. It seems quite autobiographical. Found it absorbing but it stretched credulity a bit towards the end. Don't believe it would have had a happy ending
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Bone People, 26 Jan 2014
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I bought The Bone People as is was recommended by a friend who said it was one of the books that has been re-read many times over the years. I have just started to read this an so far have found it bit difficult to to get into, but interesting so I will continue to read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging, 20 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Bone People (Paperback)
This takes a while to enter; the cadence and rhythm are unusual. There is poetry here, there is also disturbance. Not an easy read and will take a while to assimilate; but glad that I encountered it.
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The Bone People
The Bone People by Keri Hulme (Paperback - 9 Nov 2001)
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