Six Degrees of Separation: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Six degrees of separation is a new meme hosted by Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman. Here’s the idea:

Annabel and Emma will choose a book they’ve both enjoyed and then link them together. Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal or esoteric ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

The great thing about this meme is that each participant can make their own rules. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.

Burial Rites

This month’s selection is the lovely Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.

In Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, a historical fiction novel focused on the last woman executed in Iceland, the extreme, isolated landscape stands out in my mind, as well as the murder aspect of the story. Given it’s based on actual events; you know the outcome can’t be changed.

This brings me to A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain by Adrienne Harun. This novel is also set in an isolated, extreme landscape – in the very different, but equally forbidding logging country of northwestern Vancouver. This novel was partially inspired by the very real murder of women along the Highway of Tears.

Much like in A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain, poverty, death, and the rural landscape star front and center in Donald Ray Pollock’s The Devil All the Time. The characters are all haunted by a devil they know – neglect, abuse, and temptation.

Also set in the backwoods of middle America, this time in Bill’s Indiana as opposed to Pollock’s Ohio, Donnybrook (by Frank Bill) is the tale of men who have run out of options through luck, stupidity, or addiction. As the characters converge on a three day, bare-knuckled fighting tournament held in the middle-of-nowhere, Indiana, they hope to be the last man standing. If they are, they win the one hundred thousand dollar grand prize. To make it through the tournament and win the fight, both the participants and the onlookers are drunk and high on whatever’s on offer.

As impoverished and isolated as the characters of Donnybrook are, the characters of Winter’s Bone are more so. In a desperate corner of Missouri, Meth is king and Ree Dolly’s father is one of the manufacturers. He’s skipped bail, leaving Ree to fight – literally and figuratively – to keep her family’s home.

Although the viewed through very different lenses, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas also stars illegal drugs (more of the recreational sort) as a central plot point. Hunter S. Thompson was one of the better known residents of Colorado.

Dan Simmons, another (still living) Colorado writer based in the Front Range, wrote the interesting, opium influenced Drood. The novel focuses on the last years of Charles Dickens as told by the opium-addled Wilkie Collins.

Six Degrees
We made it from the nineteenth century Iceland to modern day Vancouver, from drug-impoverished middle America to a drug-fueled road trip, and finally to two very different Colorado writers – all in six moves.

23 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

    1. Thank you! (And you’re welcome.)

      It’s really lovely how everyone’s chain is so different. I don’t think I’ve seen any overlap at all. I think once monthly is perfect.


    1. Please do, Allison. The meme runs monthly, so you can add your post at any time during the month. Or, if you prefer, you can join in next month, on Saturday may 3rd, with The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath as the first book in the chain.


  1. Hey, I haven’t visited for a while – love the new look and your beautiful photo. Thanks for taking part in the meme – I loved reading your chain, as it was so completely different – which they all are, I guess. The only book I’ve read from your list is Fear & Loathing – and though it was funny, i felt uneasy the whole time I was reading it, fearing that something terrible was going to happen.


    1. Well welcome back, I think I put the site together in January…?

      Really, in Fear and Loathing, anything awful could’ve happened (at any point) and it would’ve been wholly unsurprising.


    1. It’s really been a lot of fun, especially from an international perspective (so many Australian books that I’ve never even heard of).


    1. It’ll be monthly – the first Saturday of the month, I believe. And you definitely should, this one will run all month long if you want to give it a try!


    2. Yes, that’s right, its’ monthly. It’s not too late to join in this month – people are still posting – but if you want to wait for next month, it’ll be on Saturday May 3rd and the first book in the chain is Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.


    1. Well not all of us are cheery enough to connect Burial Rites to romcom The Rosie Project…

      I think this meme is brilliant. I loved it.

      Excellent. A Man Cam Out of a Door is very different – interesting family dynamics, folklore, coming of age – all very prettily written.


  2. That’s an interesting meme, kinda pointless though if you haven’t read the first book, isn’t it? Or can we just make some random connections?


    1. I think the idea behind it is to read the book first. If you haven’t read the book and have no interest in it, I imagine you’d skip it. If it was a book you wanted to read, the meme runs only once a month, so you could pick up the book and read it and then create the chain from there. I don’t think it would be as fun if the connections were completely random. Although to be fair, my last two were a little random – two Colorado based authors and pretty much nothing else in common – so it can be done.


    2. You can still make a connection based on what you know of the book – the connections tend to be fairly random anyway! Or, as Rory said, you have a month to read if you know what the next book is.


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