A Period of Mourning: Background information when reading The Gracekeepers

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Gracekeepers

by Kirsty Logan

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan X
The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    May 2015, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Sharry Wright
Buy This Book

About this Book

A Period of Mourning

This article relates to The Gracekeepers

Print Review

In The Gracekeepers, the Graces are caged birds left to starve to death, floating above the site where a dead person was put to rest in the sea. The death of the bird indicates when the family can stop mourning. Mourning the passing of a loved one is a natural and necessary process that has different rules, guidelines and rituals depending on ones beliefs, offering structure for the grieving. Here are three that you might be less familiar with.

Buddhists believe that the dead are reincarnated, so death is viewed as a change rather than an end. In Tibetan Buddhism, just before and right after death, instructions from the Bardo Thodol, known in the West as The Tibetan Book Of The Dead, are read aloud to provide guidance through the dying process and on to rebirth. After cremation, mourners say prayers daily for the 49-day funereal period that contains the seven cycles of "bardo," the transitory state between death and rebirth.

Small rice balls known as pindas are part of Hindu funeral ceremonies Hindus also believe in reincarnation. Mourning rituals and time varies according to sect, region, cast and family tradition, but many Hindus limit it to 31 days, so their grief doesn't damage the soul in its new incarnation. During this 31-day period, the family of the deceased is considered impure and must refrain from visiting sacred sites, performing religious ceremonies, giving alms or attending religious festivals. The family often wears white, bathes twice a day and eats a single vegetarian meal daily during the mourning period. Usually, on the 31st day, a ceremony takes place. (Although some do this on the 11th and the 31st after cremation, some on the 15th day) The sapindikarana ceremony is performed by a priest who ritually purifies the house, then makes one large and three small pindas (rice balls), the large to represent the deceased, the three small to represent the father, the grandfather and the great-grandfather. The large rice ball is divided into three pieces and joined with the three smaller to represent the deceased uniting with the ancestors. At the end of this ceremony, the mourning period is over and normal daily life is resumed. Each following year on the anniversary of the person's death, a special ceremony called shraddha is performed once again offering a special meal to close family and friends and pindas to the ancestors. Typically most Hindus take up the celebration of religious festivals only after this full year. Hindus also routinely put out small portions of rice at the start of every meal as offerings to the deceased, food that is eaten by birds.

In the Russian Orthodox Church, the body of the deceased is laid out, uncovered, for three days, and the funeral is held three days after death. The funeral includes a memorial dinner with family and friends. Another service and memorial dinner is held on the ninth day when it is believed that the soul leaves the body of the deceased. The 40th day after death, when the soul departs for the next world, is also marked with another service and dinner. At each dinner, a glass of vodka covered with a slice of black bread is put out for the deceased — a mirroring of the Russian tradition of breaking black bread when meeting someone for the first time.

Picture of priest working with rice balls or pindas from espiritokashi.wordpress.com

Article by Sharry Wright

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Gracekeepers. It first ran in the June 3, 2015 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Transcription
    by Kate Atkinson
    Over her two-decade-plus career, Kate Atkinson has reinvented herself as a writer several times by ...
  • Book Jacket: Exhalation
    Exhalation
    by Ted Chiang
    Exhalation is an assemblage of nine short stories and novellas written by Ted Chiang, a computer ...
  • Book Jacket: Disappearing Earth
    Disappearing Earth
    by Julia Phillips
    On the remote peninsula of Kamchatka—tucked away on the far eastern corner of Russia and ...
  • Book Jacket: The Island of Sea Women
    The Island of Sea Women
    by Lisa See
    Lisa See's latest novel, The Island of Sea Women, follows the lives of Mi-ja and Young-sook, two ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Guest Book
    by Sarah Blake

    "An American epic in the truest sense…"
    Entertainment Weekly
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones

A masterpiece of storytelling, and a 2018 Oprah's Book Club Selection.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Miracle Creek

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie...

A thrilling debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I I T S Form O F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.