The Bone People is the story of Kerewin, a despairing part-Maori artist who is convinced that her solitary life is the only way to face the world. Her cocoon is rudely blown away by the sudden arrival of Simon, a mute six-year-old whose past seems to hold some terrible trauma. In his wake comes his foster-father Joe, a Maori factory worker with a nasty temper.
First published in 1984, this is a true classic of the NZ literary world. Hulme was turned down by many publishing houses before she found a small publishing house in New Zealand called Spiral, a collective of feminist women including Maori leader Irihapeti Ramsden.
The Bone People won both the Booker Prize for Fiction and the Pegasus Prize for Literature in 1985.