NEW BOOK PUTS THE READER ON DEATH ROW
DANYA KUKAFKA’S newest novel, Notes on an Execution, was inspired, in part, by how tired she is of Ted Bundy: “Why, 30 years after his death, are we still releasing his unheard tapes, are we still making movies with Zac Efron?” The psychological novel — her second after her acclaimed debut, Girl in Snow — puts the reader in the shoes of serial killer Ansel, who is on death row after killing a string of young girls. As he gets closer to the death chamber, though, we spend more time with those around him, including his mother and the detective who hunts him down. Kukafka’s focus on these characters came after watching years of crime shows and growing weary of the focus on the killers. “I felt that there was a larger story to tell, not only about the killers, but about the tangle that pointless male violence always leaves behind,” she says. “This is a book for the women who survive.” As for Ansel, a white male killer with delusions of grandeur and a not-bad face — sound familiar?
— by relegating him to a lesser role, Kukafka sought to strip some mystique from the serial-killer mythology: “I wanted to prove that the serial killers actually are not that interesting; they’re just average men who decide to do bad things.” BRENNA EHRLICH