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Booker Prize-winning novelist Keri Hulme dies aged 74

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

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Novelist Keri Hulme, second from right, with members of the Spiral Publishing collective in 1984 (NZME/AP)

Novelist Keri Hulme, second from right, with members of the Spiral Publishing collective in 1984 (NZME/AP)

Novelist Keri Hulme, second from right, with members of the Spiral Publishing collective in 1984 (NZME/AP)

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

Family members said she died on Monday at 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 was a charity worker before becoming an unusual literary star when The Bone People, her first novel, won one of fiction’s greatest prizes.

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

Hulme took almost 20 years to produce The Bone People, which drew on her indigenous Maori and Scottish heritage, weaving themes of personal and cultural isolation. She later shunned the spotlight.

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

“It wasn’t really something that she discussed.

“It was never about fame for her. She’s always been a storyteller. It was never about the glitz and glam, she just had stories to share.”

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