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The Discomfort of Evening wins the International Booker Prize

The Discomfort of Evening wins the International Booker Prize

The Discomfort of Evening by Dutch author Marieke Lucas Rijneveld has won the International Booker Prize for 2020.

The prestigious award, which is given to fiction novels translated into English, comes with 50,000 pounds in prize money. This is shared between Rijneveld and translator Michele Hutchinson.

Ted Hodgkinson, chair of the judging panel called the book ‘a tender and visceral evocation of a childhood caught between shame and salvation, and a deeply deserving winner.

The International Booker Prize is given by the same foundation as the renowned Booker Prize, the winner of which will be announced later this year. The shortlist is expected to be released on 15 September.

The Discomfort of Evening is Rijneveld’s first novel. An instant bestseller in the Netherlands, the translated version was released in Britain in March.

It follows the story of Jas, a 10-year-old girl living in a religious farming family, whose brother dies in an ice-skating accident, and follows her family’s ensuing struggle with grief.

Rijneveld, who uses they and them pronouns, had similar life experiences. They grew up on a dairy farm, and was three when their 12-year-old brother was hit and killed by a bus on the way to school.

The book is quite graphic in nature, containing depictions of animal abuse and the sexual awakening of Jas and her siblings. Hutchinson, the translator, saying that she found some scenes particularly difficult to work on.

‘I’d tend not to do those passages at the end of the day, in case I would get nightmares,’ she said.

While many reviewers pointed out the disturbing scenes in their reviews, they also praised the impact of Rijneveld’s writing, which is said to soften the harsher content in the novel.

You can read our review of The Discomfort of Eveningbelow.

Read the review | Buy the book