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y separately published work icon Burial Rites single work   novel   historical fiction  
Issue Details: First known date: 2013... 2013 Burial Rites
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'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's 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's 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?' (Publisher's blurb)


form y separately published work icon Burial Rites ( dir. Luca Guadagnino ) United States of America (USA) : TriStar Pictures , 2018 12353294 2018 single work film/TV

Reading Australia

Reading Australia

This work has Reading Australia teaching resources.

Unit Suitable ForAC: Senior Secondary Literature (Unit 4)

Duration5 to 6 weeks (with prior reading of the novel). The teaching resource contains a range of optional activities, so completion in full would exceed this estimate of time.

Curriculum Summary

Find a summary table for Australian Curriculum: English content descriptions and NSW syllabus outcomes for this unit.


dispossession, freedom, human experience, justice, marginalisation, redemption, truth

General Capabilities

Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Information and communication technology, Intercultural understanding, Literacy, Personal and social

Cross-curriculum Priorities



  • Dedication: For my Family

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

First known date: 2013
    • New York (City), New York (State),
      United States of America (USA),
      Back Bay Books ,
      2014 .
      image of person or book cover 8116149345948840479.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 311p.
      • Published: 1st April 2014
      ISBN: 9780316243926
    • London,
      United Kingdom (UK),
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Picador ,
      2014 .
      image of person or book cover 7643740950169358973.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 355p.
      • Published: 27th February 2014
      ISBN: 9781447233176
    • Sydney, New South Wales,: Picador , 2016 .
      image of person or book cover 2845154417636406037.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 338p.
      • Published: 8th March 2016
      ISBN: 9781743549551
Alternative title: Skazana
Language: Polish
    • Warsaw,
      Eastern Europe, Europe,
      Prószyński Media ,
      2013 .
      image of person or book cover 1307680127894996571.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 391p.
      ISBN: 9788378396031

Other Formats

  • Sound recording.
  • Large print.

Works about this Work

(In)famous Subjects : Representing Women's Criminality and Violence in Historical Biofictions Ariella Van Luyn , 2019 single work criticism
— Appears in: New Writing , vol. 16 no. 1 2019; (p. 67-76)

'Historical fiction writers can be drawn to the true stories of women who have committed violent or criminal acts, as are readers. Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace and Hannah Kent's Burial Rites are popular, acclaimed examples of this trend. In my own creative work, Treading Air, I fictionalise the life of Lizzie O’Dea, petty thief and sex worker. The women in these stories are vulnerable subjects unable to give their consent, and the often elliptical and unreliable historical records that are the textual traces of their lives, coupled with the discomfort of the voyeuristic gaze, make representations of criminal women in historical biofiction a fraught act.' (Publication abstract)

Hannah Kent, Interviewed by Kelly Gardiner Kelly Gardiner (interviewer), 2018 single work interview
— Appears in: Conversations with Biographical Novelists : Truthful Fictions across the Globe 2018; (p. 105-118)
What I’m Reading Martha Swift , 2017 single work
— Appears in: Meanjin Online 2017;
What I’m Reading—Kate Forsyth Kate Forsyth , 2017 single work column
— Appears in: Meanjin Online 2017;
There Was Nothing, There Was Nowhere to Go : Writing Australian Rural Noir Leigh Redhead , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT Special Issue Website Series , October no. 37 2016;
'When I embarked on my doctorate in creative writing, I wanted to write about the decline of an alternative community in the 1980s, similar to the one in which I had grown up. A noir novel seemed the perfect vehicle for the dark themes I planned to explore, and promised to be very different from the private eye series I usually wrote. Typically, noir is located in urban environments and many studies of noir fiction and film maintain that an urban setting is integral to the genre, speaking as it does to the anxiety and alienation of modern life, feelings of anonymity and of being the outsider, and the corruption and criminality of the city. Much contemporary noir fiction still takes place in metropolitan areas; however, there is, increasingly, a sub-genre situated in rural locations, as illustrated by the rise of ‘Country’ or ‘Hillbilly Noir’ in the USA. Australian crime fiction has long made use of the bush and outback as a location – usually as a site of conquest where the hero ultimately triumphs over the antagonist; however, noir narratives are different, invariably ending in destruction and defeat. This article will investigate Australian Rural Noir through a comparative textual analysis of Kenneth Cooke’s Wake in Fright, Chris Womersley’s The Low Road and Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites. It will consider the ways in which Australian rural noir uses landscape to subvert the pastoral paradigm and will examine the tensions between the exterior landscape and the interior life of the protagonists, reflecting on the particularly Australian cultural anxieties implicit in these texts. I also discuss my own research-led practice, the challenges involved in being an insider researcher and, finally, consider whether this nexus between the critical and creative helps or hinders the creative writing process.' (Publication abstract)
Novel by Student in Demand Brook Turner , 2012 single work review
— Appears in: The Australian Financial Review , 10 July 2012; (p. 3)

— Review of Burial Rites Hannah Kent , 2013 single work novel
Outcast Doomed by Island's Icy Conformity Geordie Williamson , 2013 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 27-28 April 2013; (p. 21)

— Review of Burial Rites Hannah Kent , 2013 single work novel
Hannah Kent : Burial Rites Linda Funnell , 2013 single work review
— Appears in: The Newtown Review of Books , May 2013;

— Review of Burial Rites Hannah Kent , 2013 single work novel
Ambiguous Agnes Bronwyn Lea , 2013 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , May no. 351 2013;

— Review of Burial Rites Hannah Kent , 2013 single work novel
[Review] Burial Rites Alexandra Coghlan , 2013 single work review
— Appears in: The Monthly , May no. 89 2013; (p. 56)

— Review of Burial Rites Hannah Kent , 2013 single work novel
A Pair of Ragged Claws Stephen Romei , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 11-12 August 2012; (p. 19)
Author an Instant Millionaire Deborah Bogle , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Advertiser , 13 July 2012; (p. 3)
Preoccupations with Ghosts Hannah Kent , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: ACTWrite , September vol. 18 no. 8 2012; (p. 4-6)
'Hannah Kent looks at the development of her manuscript, Burial Rites, and the benefits of mentorships.' (Editor's abstract)
World of Words Jane Sullivan , 2012 single work column
— Appears in: The Sydney Morning Herald , 28-29 December 2012; (p. 22) The Canberra Times , 29 December 2012; (p. 15-16) The Saturday Age , 29 December 2012; (p. 22-23)
Jane Sullivan nominates the best Australian and overseas published books for 2013.
In Cold Blood Stephen Romei , 2013 single work column
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 20-21 April 2013; (p. 18-19)
Last amended 18 Aug 2021 08:18:25
  • c
    Western Europe, Europe,
  • 1830
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