Booker Prize-winning novelist Keri Hulme has died aged 74

Keri Hulme, the New Zealander whose 1984 novel The Bone People won the Man Booker Prize, has died at the age of 74.

Members of the friendship said she died on Monday in Waimate, on New Zealand’s South Island. They did not give a cause of death.

Hulme worked as a tobacco picker, dropped out of law school, and worked for charity before becoming an unusual literary star when The Bone People, her debut novel, won one of fiction’s biggest prizes.

The novel was rejected by several publishers before being picked up by obscure publisher Spiral, a New Zealand feminist collective.

Hulme spent almost 20 years producing The Bone People, which draws on its indigenous Maori and Scottish heritage, weaving themes of personal and cultural isolation. She then avoided the spotlight.

“There were stories of her being this literary giant,” Hulme’s nephew, Matthew Salmons, told New Zealand news site Stuff.

“It wasn’t really something she was talking about.

“It was never about fame for her. She has always been a storyteller. It was never about glitz and glamor, she just had stories to share.

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