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New Zealand novelist Keri Hulme, winner of the Booker Prize, dies


Accomplished New Zealand writer Keri Hulme has died aged 74 due to chronic medical conditions.

Award-winning New Zealand writer Keri Hulme: March 9, 1947 – December 27, 2021.
Photo: Bernard Weil / Toronto Star via Getty Images

His nephew Matthew Salmons told RNZ that Hulme had suffered from dementia for years.

Salmons said Hulme was an icon for the family.

“For us, it is her efforts and a kind of reconnection of our whānau with our whakapapa Māori, with our Kāi Tahu roots, with our whenua, this has been the most beautiful gift she has given us and it is a legacy. long lasting that we are all intensely proud of. “

The family would organize a private funeral for Hulme, Salmons said.

Hulme became a full-time writer at 25, but it wasn’t until her critically acclaimed novel The people of bones won the Booker Prize that she began to make a serious living from her art.

Who was Keri Hulme?

Born in Otautahi Christchurch on March 9, 1947, Hulme had tribal affiliations with Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Māmoe.

Māoritanga was very important to her and was a theme of her writing.

Other than The people of bones, Hulme wrote Reception venues, Strand, Te Kaihau / The windbreaker, and The silences between (Moeraki conversations).

She was also an accomplished painter and exhibited in group exhibitions in the early 1980s.

The story of how The people of bones – Hulme’s first novel – became almost as well-known as the book itself: 12 years of writing, then spent several years locked in resin and used as a doorstop because no one wanted to publish it.

It was finally published in 1983 by the small Spiral Collective – a publisher focused on artists and female voices.

The novel explores the relationships between three characters: the lonely painter Kerewin Holmes, the alcoholic widower Joe Gillayley and his mute adopted young son, Simon.

He won the 1984 New Zealand Book Prize for Fiction, the Pegasus Prize for Maori Literature and in 1985 the ultimate honor – the Booker Prize in Britain.

Booker’s website describes the book as focusing on the “mysterious relationship between three unorthodox foreigners of mixed Maori and European heritage.”

In addition to The Booker, various works by Hulme received the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Prize, for a short story in 1975, the Māori Trust Fund Prize in 1978, the New Zealand Writing Fellowship in 1984, and the Chianti Ruffino Antico Fattor Prize in 1987.

Hulme led a solitary life in the small township of Ōkārito on the west coast, where she was adept at baiting and smoking a pipe.

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Tags : award winning
Margarita W. Wilson

The author Margarita W. Wilson