Friday, May 4, 2012

The Bone People (global reading challenge #16)

The next book of the reading challenge - "The Bone People" by Keri Hulme - brought me right to the other side of the world: to New Zealand, the antipode region of middle Europe. It also connects to my own series of reading Booker Prize novels, the book won the 1984 prize (i guess i should start a tag for this, too.. well.)

One of the things that made me interested in the novel: it's described as bicultural / bilingual: "An important theme is Hulme's vision of a utopian unity between Maori and Western culture in New Zealand. The main characters also function as metaphors/allegories in the context of postcolonial discourse: Joe could be seen as resembling Maori culture, Simon represents European culture and Kerewin (the alter ego of the author) represents the culture clash between both."

Also, it seems to be a book that readers either love or hate (see Goodreads, 711 reviews), with elements of magic realism. I was curious how i would feel about it. The answer is: neither/nor. Maybe it's not the right book for me, or not the right time to read it. Maybe i expected too much, i didn't really see the postcolonial discourse - for me, it's rather a book about dealing with the pain of isolation, and about dealing with life's random tragedies and the disconnectedness they cause. One of the lines that i marked and returned to reflects the ambiguity of dealing / not dealing with things going wrong: "Who cares? That's the way things are now. (I care.)"

The paperback version has 550 pages. Hulme wrote it over the course of 12 years. In many ways, it's the counterpart book to the previous "Accident" read, written in one summer by Christa Wolf in response to the Tschernobyl catastrophe, which deals with the question of our culture and the technological risks it creates in 120 pages.

Global + European Reading Challenge
In the read this year, i am taking part in a global and in an european reading challenge. the idea: to read books from each continent of the world / several countries of europe. so far i've been to:
- book 17: Open City (NY / Africa)
- book 16: The Bone People (New Zealand)
- book 15: Accident / Störfall (Germany / Europe)
- book 14: Possessed by Shadows (Czechoslovakia/Europe)
- book 13: A Walk in the Woods (USA/America)
- book 12: Deep Country (UK/Europe)
- detour: World Book Day - books, reviews, links
- book 11: Stone Age Venus (Germany/Europe)
- book 10: Journal of  a Solitude (USA/America)
- book 9: Mexican Lives (Mexico/America)
- detour: the world in 7 books
- book 8: Tagore (India/Asia)
- book 7: Zarzura (Egypt/Africa)
- book 6: Jericho (Israel/Middle East)
- book 5: Ledra Street (Cyprus/Europe)
- book 4: Disappearance. A Map (Alaska/America)
- book 3: Paris was Ours (France/Europe)
- book 2: Anar (Middle East)
- book 1: The Tigers's Wife (former Yugoslavia/Europe)
- more books: virtual bookshelf
- about: the Global Reading Challenge

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