Saturday, February 22, 2014

Hannah Kent

Hannah Kent is the author of Burial Rites.

From her Q & A with Randy Dotinga at the Christian Science Monitor:

Q: What's the true-life story behind "Burial Rites" and how did you come across it?

A: Ten years ago, I lived in Iceland for 12 months as a Rotary exchange student.

The town that hosted me was in the north of the country, and turned out to be located quite close to the site of Iceland’s last execution. A few months after I arrived, my host parents drove me past this site and told me a little about the 1828 murders that had resulted in two people being beheaded there.

Two men had been killed as they lay sleeping in a remote farmhouse, ostensibly because the perpetrators wished to rob them. As my curiosity about these events deepened, however, and as I continued to find out more about the case, I realized that the crime was much more complicated than it originally seemed, and that the motives of the two people who were convicted for the murders might have been deeply complex.

Q: What about the case did you want to unravel in the novel?

A: One reason the two men might have been killed is because of money. But their murders seemed also to have been the tragic culmination of a story of betrayal, ambition, unrequited love, poverty, and loneliness.

Most writers are drawn to what is unknown, rather than what is clear in any tale. The silences in this particular story were what held the greatest appeal for me.

I found that the largest gaps in the story surrounded the life, character and actions of Agnes Magnusdottir, the woman who was convicted of the murders alongside the 17-year-old Fridrik Sigurdsson. Where I hoped to find...[read on]
Visit Hannah Kent's website.

--Marshal Zeringue