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

Burial Rites

Shortlisted for the 2014 Stella Prize

Paperback

Published: 1st March 2014
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Published: 1st May 2013
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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
 
4.5

(based on 17 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (11)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (5)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (1)

94%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Well written (15)
  • Engaging characters (12)
  • Page turner (12)
  • Suspenseful (8)
  • Deserves multiple readings (4)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Gift (7)
  • Older readers (5)
  • Travel reading (4)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Everyday reader (10), Bookworm (6)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

ICELANDIC GOTHIC

I found this book fascinating: it's based on true events centuries back in Iceland and although somewhat gloomy it's a real pageturner and very well written by a young Melbourne woman.

The...Read complete review

I found this book fascinating: it's based on true events centuries back in Iceland and although somewhat gloomy it's a real pageturner and very well written by a young Melbourne woman.

The main character, while tragic, is a strong and unusual woman trapped by her life circumstances
in a hideous situation. Whether or not the portrayal of Icelandic society at that time is accurate I do not know, but it's haunting: one of those books you'll never forget once you've read it.

I'm waiting to see what she writes next: I'd read it once before I bought it, have read it twice since and it's now been loaned out to a family member with my strong recommendations.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

Slow, mediocre, unappealing

After the rave reviews I was looking forward to reading this book but I was very disappointed. It felt like it was cashing in on the Scandinavian crime craze but also pitching itself as...Read complete review

After the rave reviews I was looking forward to reading this book but I was very disappointed. It felt like it was cashing in on the Scandinavian crime craze but also pitching itself as high literature. If dreary purply prose and half-cooked characters are your thing, go for it. This book is guaranteed to thrill the pretentious "book club" crowd but for an entertaining read, forget it.

Reviewed by 17 customers

Displaying reviews 1-10

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5.0

Recommended reading

By 

from Adelaide

About Me Bookworm

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Page Turner
  • Suspenseful
  • Well Written

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Mature Readers

    Comments about Burial Rites:

    Haunting story and well written. All the more haunting as it is based on true events so even though you are hoping for a happy ending the eventual outcome is unavoidable. Make sure you have a box of tissues handy!

    Comment on this reviewHelp Icon

     
    5.0

    Changed my life

    By 

    from Melbourne, AU

    About Me Bookworm

    Pros

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

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Gift
      • Reference

      Comments about Burial Rites:

      amazing book. the more you read it, the better it gets. it's beautifully poetic, and really takes you away. i can hardly read another book without comparing it to burial rites. a must read.

      Comment on this reviewHelp Icon

       
      5.0

      Brilliant!

      By 

      from Perth

      About Me Everyday Reader

      Pros

      • Engaging Characters
      • Well Written

      Cons

        Best Uses

          Comments about Burial Rites:

          Beautifully written! I am an English teacher who has an awful style. Hannah's is just lovely, I loved it!

          Comment on this reviewHelp Icon

           
          5.0

          ICELANDIC GOTHIC

          By 

          from Warburton, Australia

          About Me Bookworm

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

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

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Gift
            • Older Readers
            • Travel Reading
            • Younger Readers

            Comments about Burial Rites:

            I found this book fascinating: it's based on true events centuries back in Iceland and although somewhat gloomy it's a real pageturner and very well written by a young Melbourne woman.

            The main character, while tragic, is a strong and unusual woman trapped by her life circumstances
            in a hideous situation. Whether or not the portrayal of Icelandic society at that time is accurate I do not know, but it's haunting: one of those books you'll never forget once you've read it.

            I'm waiting to see what she writes next: I'd read it once before I bought it, have read it twice since and it's now been loaned out to a family member with my strong recommendations.

            Comment on this reviewHelp Icon

             
            4.0

            Stunningly visual prose

            By 

            from Mount View

            About Me Everyday Reader

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Deserves Multiple Readings
            • Well Written

            Cons

              Best Uses

                Comments about Burial Rites:

                This book is so descriptive, blunt and cold and yet warm and welcoming. Based on true events, the story brings you into a craggy, damp place both in setting and in its characters' hearts yet leaves you feeling those touched by the central character - Anges - will not be same.

                Comment on this reviewHelp Icon

                 
                1.0

                Slow, mediocre, unappealing

                By 

                from Sydney

                About Me Everyday Reader

                Pros

                  Cons

                  • Difficult To Follow
                  • Disappointing
                  • Not What I expected

                  Best Uses

                  • Doorstop

                  Comments about Burial Rites:

                  After the rave reviews I was looking forward to reading this book but I was very disappointed. It felt like it was cashing in on the Scandinavian crime craze but also pitching itself as high literature. If dreary purply prose and half-cooked characters are your thing, go for it. This book is guaranteed to thrill the pretentious "book club" crowd but for an entertaining read, forget it.

                  Comment on this reviewHelp Icon

                   
                  5.0

                  Elegant Smart Prose

                  By 

                  from Melbourne

                  About Me Bookworm

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Engaging Characters
                  • Page Turner
                  • Well Written

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                      Comments about Burial Rites:

                      Love it love it love it! Beautiful prose, full of elegant imagery and superb character development. Just stunning writing that creates a full world with fluid language that doesn't get cluttered with over the top flowery language or attempts to be too clever.
                      A difficult subject to enjoy; murder, mistreatment, a harsh world set in a time a modern reader could scarcely imagine. But the author makes it work.
                      I thought the end a little too neat but it wasn't enough to put me off raving about how wonderful this tale of injustice is.
                      Would recommend to a reader who has demanding tastes in literature.

                      Comment on this reviewHelp Icon

                       
                      4.0

                      A different book

                      By 

                      from Barcaldine

                      About Me Bookworm

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Page Turner
                      • Well Written

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Gift

                        Comments about Burial Rites:

                        I quite enjoyed this book, not one I might normally read but worth reading. It is set in a dark place and the story is dark but it will keep your brain changing it's mind about the main character in the book. I have lent it too a few other people who have also enjoyed this book.

                        Comment on this reviewHelp Icon

                         
                        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 reviewHelp Icon

                             
                            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 reviewHelp Icon

                              Displaying reviews 1-10

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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. The Good People will be her second book.

                              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