The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, translated from the Dutch by Michele Hutchison, has been selected as the winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize. Graywolf Press published the book in the US on August 18.
The Discomfort of Evening offers readers a rare vision of rural and religious life in the Netherlands.
With stunning psychological acuity and images of haunting violence and beauty, Rijneveld has created a captivating world of language unlike any other. The first Dutch novelist to ever be nominated for the Booker International Prize, Rijneveld has
become a breakout star in their native Netherlands and around the world with this extraordinary debut.
“I am delighted for Marieke Lucas Rijneveld and the translator Michele Hutchison, for the Dutch and
British publishers, as well as for Graywolf to have been honored by this prestigious international award,”
said Graywolf publisher Fiona McCrae. “The Discomfort of Evening is dark and disturbing but the brilliance of
its prose both illuminates and transcends the silent grief at the heart of the novel.”
Ten-year-old Jas lives with her strictly religious parents and her siblings on a dairy farm where waste and frivolity are akin to sin. Despite the dreary routine of their days, Jas has a unique way of experiencing her world: her face soft like cheese under her mother’s hands; the texture of green warts, like capers, on migrating toads in the village; the sound of “blush words” that aren’t in the Bible.
One icy morning, the disciplined rhythm of her family’s life is ruptured by a tragic accident, and Jas is convinced she is to blame. As her parents’ suffering makes them increasingly distant, Jas and her siblings develop a curiosity about death that leads them into disturbing rituals and fantasies. Cocooned in her red winter coat, Jas dreams of “the other side” and of salvation, not knowing where this dreaming will finally lead her.
A best seller in the Netherlands, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld’s radical debut novel offers readers a rare vision of rural and religious life in the Netherlands. In it, they ask: In the absence of comfort and care, what can the mind of a child invent to protect itself? And what happens when that is not enough? With stunning psychological acuity and images of haunting, violent beauty, Rijneveld has created a captivating world of language unlike any other.