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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
ISBN: 9781743516966
Number Of Pages: 352

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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.


Loved this book


I was given a copy of this book that I lent to a friend who lost my book. This is to replace my lost copy

Sydney Australia


Such a great read


couldn't put this down, it was so good. Definately recommended

Canberra, ACT Australia


Excellent read, well researched and written.


One of the best books I have ever read. Kept me engrossed and I did not skip a word!

Swan Bay Tas


Worth the read!


I heard about Hannah Kent's books on ABC Radio National. The books sounded fascinating and I'd been wanting to read them for awhile, so I bought both books. I'm about 2/3 way through Burial Rites and while I currently don't manage to read every night, sadly, I'm really liking the book. It's not a cheerful or easy read, but it's a worthwhile read!

Granite Belt, Queensland.


Brilliant book. Booktopia delivered on time as promised


I always buy books when Im about to leave on a holiday

Perth WA


Emotional reads


Usually read at night. This story kept me going for more than I should. I like the plot.



Fantastic service


I have read this book some time ago and bought it for my 17 year old granddaughter. Service from Booktopia was great with prompt arrival even through the busy Xmas/New Year period. New packaging protected the book extremely well.

Gold Coast,Queensland Australia

A very original idea by a first time author, a must read.


A great story idea, a very honest representation of a true story which immerses the reader into the character's experiences. Very earthy a real and sometimes unpleasant rendering of rural life in Iceland.

Sydney Australia


This book is totally captivating!


I have read this book and I wanted a copy for a gift.




I loved this book. It had me from the first page and I couldn't read it fast enough. You could feel the cold and miserable conditions and what the characters were facing. Enthralling.



Burial Rites

4.6 27


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): 0.26

Hannah Kent

About the Author

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.

Her second novel, The Good People, is set in pre-famine rural Ireland.

Hannah is also the co-founder and publishing director of Australian literary journal Kill Your Darlings.

Visit Hannah Kent's Booktopia Author Page