The Bone People won the Booker prize in 1985. I remember it creating a huge stir in New Zealand at the time, because of the prestige of the prize but also the question of the author’s “right” to write about Maori culture.
This book has always been on my “should read but not really that interested in reading” list. I’m so pleased that I have finally read it. It feels like I have been on a long journey with each of the three central characters.
These three are Kerewin, a reclusive painter who has lost her ability to paint; Simon, a mute 6 year old and Joe, Simon’s adoptive father. Simon turns up at Kerewin’s “tower” her isolated refuge one day and it is here that the healing journey of these alienated and traumatised people begins. It is a combined and an individual journey. A rediscovery of identity.
This is a story that asks for commitment to get through it. There are issues that arise that do not make easy reading.It is long, the pace is slow and it has a stream of consciousness/poetic style which I found hard going. Add to that a lot of Maori language throughout which required repeated flicking to the back of the book to translate.
Despite being a frustration, the gentle pace is also one of the joys. It embodies the spirit of acceptance, of letting things be, of allowing the seasons and the land and the people of the land to do what they need to do to become whole again.
This story is filled with symbolism and is multi-layered. There is so much to think about having finished it and despite being a challenge it was worth it. The latter part of the book was amazing.
I have to admit to struggling with my thoughts for this post. In a nutshell, I found it a difficult, memorable, wonderful read.
Read for the Book Awards 3 challenge.