Monday, September 10, 2007


Anonymous has left a new comment on your post " THIS IS HOW THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD SAW THE STORY ...":

Given that I was only in intermediate school at the time, I wonder if Bookman Beattie or other blog readers remember whether The Bone People had the same level of commercial and critical success before the Booker McConnell shortlisting and prize win? The acclaim for Mister Pip has been massive and completely international even before its NZ publication. I also seem to remember reading that Bone People was a very controversial winner (even in Booker circles!).

Bookman Beattie replies:

Ah yes, I remember it well, (as Maurice Chevalier once sang).

The big difference between these two titles, in terms of the Booker Prize, is that The Bone People was the rank outsider and was not given a chance by anyone. Mr.Pip's long-listing and subsequent shortlisting was not a surprise in the slightest as far as I was concerned as it had already won both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana NZ Book Awards for fiction. And while it was initially listed by UK bookies at 20/1 the odds rapidly shortened until now when it is the favourite at 2/1.

There are many other differences too of course between the two books. The Bone People was originally published by The Spiral Collective (three enterprising and able women) with the assistance of a couple of literary grants. After quickly becoming a best-seller in NZ and having two printings in the original edition it was then jointly published with Hodder & Stoughton and it was this edition which was sold world-wide and subsequently won the Booker Prize in 1985 having been controversially overlooked in the Goodman Fielder Wattie Book Awards (forerunner of the Montana NZ Book Awards) back home in NZ.

If you would like to read moree about The Bone People and Keri Hulme then use this link to the NZ Book Council website.

Footnote: At the time that The Bone People was making such a splash within NZ, but before it was known at all overseas, three multi-national publishers, or at least their NZ representatives, were desperately trying to do a co-publishing deal with The Spiral Collective. Representing Wm.Collins was their MD Brian Phillips, representing Penguin was their MD, Bookman Beattie, and representing Hodder & Stoughton was their publisher Bert Hingley. After several weeks of intensive lobbying and bargaining with phones running red hot the battle was won by Hodder & Stoughton.
And now 22 years later the title remains in print (Picador) and continues to sell worldwide.


Anonymous said...

Mr Beattie,
I first came across your blog in March while researching Lloyd Jones and Mr Pip for an honours research essay at Vic. I was wondering if you would respond to some emailed questions about qualifications and/or work experience in the trade you have worked in (as I am currently wondering how to approach another qualification, and would appreciate advise from one who knows). I'm specifically interested in flexiblity and opportunitites for the literary industry's workforce in the future.
If you don't mind giving 10 minutes of your time on the subject, flick me an e.mail at

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bookman for your excellent response to my question. Love the Chevalier remark!

Brian Phillips said...

Thanks for the plug Bookman Beattie.. But actually I was representing Picador [had left Collins by then] and we were successful of course in snaring paperback rights.
Brian Philips