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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
 
4.3

(based on 12 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (7)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (1)

92%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Well written (10)
  • Engaging characters (9)
  • Page turner (9)
  • Suspenseful (5)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Gift (5)
  • Older readers (4)
  • Travel reading (3)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Everyday reader (8), Bookworm (3)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Elegant Smart Prose

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...Read complete review

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.

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 12 customers

Displaying reviews 1-10

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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.

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              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.

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                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.

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                    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 reviewHelp Icon

                       
                      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 reviewHelp Icon

                         
                        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.

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                          5.0

                          Amazing read

                          By 

                          from Melbourne

                          About Me Everyday Reader

                          Verified Buyer

                          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 reviewHelp Icon

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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