Spanning geographies, cultures, and the ages, a moving journey into the physical facts and metaphysical mysteries of how the living care for the dead.
Death is universal. It will meet us all. But it’s also a practical problem—what do we do with dead bodies? Vibeke Maria and Andreas Viestad live by a cemetery and are daily spectators of its routines, and their fascination with burials has led them to dig deep to examine our relationship with the dead. Taking us on a journey around the world and into the past, the Viestads explore how the deceased are honored and cared for, cremated, and buried. From archaeological sites in Spain, Israel, and Russia to environmentally friendly burials in the United States and Ghana’s fantasy coffins, and from cremations without fire to the new industry turning our dearly departed’s ashes into diamonds, this empathetic and enthralling book is for anyone who knows their turn is coming, but who’d like a good book for the journey.
About the Author
Vibeke Maria Viestad is an archaeologist at the University of Oslo and an honorary research fellow at Wits University, Johannesburg. She is the author of Dress as Social Relations.
Andreas Viestad is a writer, TV chef, restaurateur, and food activist. He is the longtime host of New Scandinavian Cooking and a former columnist at the Washington Post.
Matt Bagguley is a translator of Norwegian fiction and nonfiction. He lives in Oslo.
Praise for Living with the Dead: How We Care for the Deceased
"No bones about it, there are wild and wonderful ways to honor the dead. TV chef and newspaper columnist Andreas Viestad and his wife Vibeke live in a Norwegian cemetery. Their fascination with burials led them to dig deep into relationships with death."
— Sunday Post
"Death is existential, instrumental, and emotional. In revealing the stories of ceremonies and practicalities from near and far, across space and time, the Viestads offer us an account that’s deadly serious as well as driven by a curiosity about rituals and feelings. A beautifully written, highly informative, and surprisingly entertaining book."
— Thomas Hylland Eriksen, anthropologist and author of "What is Anthropology?" and "Overheating: An Anthropology of Accelerated Change"