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Burial Rites : Shortlisted for the 2014 Stella Prize - Hannah Kent

Burial Rites

Shortlisted for the 2014 Stella Prize

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Published: 1st March 2014
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Winner Of The 2014 Indie Awards Debut Fiction Of The Year
Winner Of The Victorian Premier's Literary Award People's Choice Award 2014
Winner Of The Faw Christina Stead Award 2014
Winner Of The Aba Nielson Bookdata Booksellers' Choice Award 2014
Shortlisted For The Stella Prize 2014
Shortlisted For The Baileys Women's Prize For Fiction 2014
Shortlisted For The Victorian Premier's Literary Award For Fiction 2014
Shortlisted For The Abia Literary Fiction Book Of The Year 2014
Shortlisted For The Als Gold Medal 2014
Shortlisted For The Guardian First Book Award 2013
Shortlisted For The Nib Waverley Award For Literature 2013


In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnusdottir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of two men.

Agnes is sent to wait out the time leading to her execution on the farm of District Officer Jon Jonsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderess in their midst, the family avoids speaking with Agnes. Only Toti, the young assistant reverend appointed as Agnes' spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her, as he attempts to salvage her soul. As the summer months fall away to winter and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes' ill-fated tale of longing and betrayal begins to emerge. And as the days to her execution draw closer, the question burns: did she or didn't she?

Based on a true story, Burial Rites is a deeply moving novel about personal freedom: who we are seen to be versus who we believe ourselves to be, and the ways in which we will risk everything for love. In beautiful, cut-glass prose, Hannah Kent portrays Iceland's formidable landscape, where every day is a battle for survival, and asks, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

Read Caroline Baum's Review:

This book stinks, in a good way. Of fish and blood and guts and unwashed bodies and earth and death.

In fact, it reeks of those things and more. This austere love letter to Iceland takes a true story of murder as its foundation. Based on records from the trial of the two women and one man convicted of killing and burning two men on a remote farm this is richly and darkly imagined in prose thick with atmospherics.

Kent is a precocious talent who understands how to animate research and transform it into compelling narrative. She shows mature prowess in creating the life of her central character, Agnes, one of the accused, a fierce woman with pale blue eyes who spends the last few weeks of her life re-examining the circumstances that brought her to her fate.

The assistant priest who comes to give her counsel is soon tormented by the spectre of Agnes' execution, as are the family she lives with in her final weeks. A scene in which they all make sausages together, up to their elbows in blood and guts, is particularly visceral and vivid.

This book comes with heavy industry hype, having earned an unusually high advance for a first novel. So many books burdened with extreme expectations fizzle out and are soon forgotten, fated to be embarrassing items on their publisher's balance sheet. I doubt this will happen to Burial Rites, which delivers a chilly story of brutality steeped in authentic detail that fills every sense. After reading it, you'll be extra grateful for that hot bath and nice cup of tea.

About the Author

Hannah Kent was born in Adelaide in 1985. As a teenager she travelled to Iceland on a Rotary Exchange, where she first heard the story of Agnes Magnusdottir. Hannah is the co-founder and deputy editor of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings, and is completing her PhD at Flinders University. In 2011 she won the inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award. Burial Rites is her first novel.

BOOKTOPIA INTERVIEW: HANNAH KENT ANSWERS BOOKTOPIA'S TEN TERRIFYING QUESTIONS - CLICK HERE

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

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Burial Rites
 
4.7

(based on 9 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (6)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Engaging characters (8)
  • Well written (8)
  • Page turner (7)
  • Suspenseful (5)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Gift (4)
  • Older readers (4)
  • Travel reading (3)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Everyday reader (7)

Reviewed by 9 customers

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5.0

Loved it

By 

from Canberra

About Me Everyday Reader

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Engaging Characters
  • Page Turner
  • Suspenseful
  • Well Written

Cons

    Best Uses

      Comments about Burial Rites:

      This book had me thinking about it for days after reading. Really took you to the place and time in which it was written, you could feel the desperation. So well written.

      Comment on this review

       
      5.0

      remarkable historical story in Iceland

      By 

      from Melbourne

      About Me Everyday Reader

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Deserves Multiple Readings
      • Engaging Characters
      • Page Turner
      • Suspenseful
      • Well Written

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Gift
        • Older Readers
        • Travel Reading

        Comments about Burial Rites:

        This is an amazing book - to have been written by a young Australian woman about Iceland, on the other side of the world.
        The story carries you along.

        Comment on this review

         
        5.0

        Beautiful, impressive writing

        By 

        from Newcastle, NSW.

        About Me Everyday Reader

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Engaging Characters
        • Well Written

        Cons

          Best Uses

            Comments about Burial Rites:

            This book had excellent reviews, but I thought the topic would be grim. It took courage to start reading, but I soon realised that the author's way of presenting the story was exceptionally interesting, using a beautiful writing style. I was glad to have read the book.

            Comment on this review

             
            4.0

            Surprisingly good

            By 

            from Perth

            About Me Everyday Reader

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Engaging Characters
            • Page Turner
            • Suspenseful
            • Well Written

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Gift
              • Older Readers
              • Travel Reading
              • Younger Readers

              Comments about Burial Rites:

              I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, it is very well written and a great page turner

              Comment on this review

               
              4.0

              A good read

              By 

              from Adelaide

              About Me Everyday Reader

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Engaging Characters

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Gift
                • Travel Reading

                Comments about Burial Rites:

                It was a good read. Incited interest about the historical events

                Comment on this review

                 
                5.0

                Amazing

                By 

                from merimbula

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Page Turner
                • Suspenseful
                • Well Written

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Gift
                  • Older Readers

                  Comments about Burial Rites:

                  This is a well researched book which holds the interest of the reader from beginning to end,. Even though the end result is known from the outset one cannot help but hope for a different outcome. The characters are from another time and the living conditions were basic .The book reminded me of another favorite of mine Tess of the d'Urbervilles.

                  Comment on this review

                   
                  5.0

                  Amazing read

                  By 

                  from Melbourne

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                  Pros

                  • Engaging Characters
                  • Page Turner
                  • Well Written

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                      Comments about Burial Rites:

                      I loved this book, I could feel the bitter cold of Iceland, smell the stench of death and poverty,and feel the hopelessness and despair some of the characters experienced. A time in history so far removed from my world, an insight into a time long ago where rules were often cruel and unfair but the kindness of strangers was there to give hope.

                      Comment on this review

                       
                      4.0

                      Haunting, sad, imagine it as a movie

                      By 

                      from Hobart, AU

                      About Me Everyday Reader

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Engaging Characters
                      • Page Turner
                      • Well Written

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Older Readers

                        Comments about Burial Rites:

                        I wasn't sure about this book when I started reading it, but as I progressed through, I found it very hard to put down, I really wanted to see what happens in the end to the main character. This book is hauntingly sad, though provoking and slightly educational. It is not an easy 'whatever' type of read. My only issue was the hard to pronounce names and locations due to the country it happened in, I am so glad that the Author explained this at the beginning! As I read this book, I could fully see it being made as a movie!

                        Comment on this review

                        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        Couldn't Put it Down

                        By 

                        from Melbourne, AU

                        About Me Bookworm

                        Pros

                        • Engaging Characters
                        • Page Turner
                        • Suspenseful
                        • Well Written

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                            Comments about Burial Rites:

                            What a book and what a story! The fact that its based on a true story makes it even more compelling. I was immersed in this book. Hanna Kent's description of the protagonist Agnus Magnusdottir, the Icelandic setting and characters just made me live and breath the life of 1800s iceland. Kent is an amazing writer. I didn't want this book to end.

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                            Hannah Kent

                            Hannah Kent is a Melbourne-based writer, born in Adelaide in 1985. Her first novel, Burial Rites, has been translated into over twenty languages and was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize) and the Guardian First Book Award. It won the ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year, the Indie Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year and the Victorian Premier's People's Choice Award, and has most recently been longlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

                            Hannah is also the co-founder and publishing director of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings. She is currently writing her second novel. 

                            Visit Hannah Kent's Booktopia Author Page


                            ISBN: 9781743516966
                            ISBN-10: 1743516967
                            Audience: General
                            Format: Paperback
                            Language: English
                            Number Of Pages: 352
                            Published: 1st March 2014
                            Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
                            Country of Publication: AU
                            Dimensions (cm): 19.7 x 13.0  x 2.2
                            Weight (kg): 0.27