The Discomfort of Evening
- Winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize
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.
- “This is Rijneveld in short: an earthy and irreverent new voice, thrillingly uninhibited in style and subject matter. . . The spaciousness of Rijneveld’s imagination comes as terror and solace. That lack of squeamishness, that frightening extremity, which, in Hutchison’s clean, calm translation, never feels showy or manipulative, gives full voice to the enormity of the children’s grief, their obscene deprivation.”—Parul Sehgal, The New York Times
- “This childhood narrative of overwhelming grief, religious insanity, death and incest, cruelty and despair, is felt in the gut as much as it is in the heart. . . . The novel’s power resides not in its ability to stun, but rather in the compressed grace of the author’s plain style—lucidly conveyed by the translator Michele Hutchison—which conjures up a hermetically sealed reality and an adolescent protagonist so believable and unguarded that from the outset we feel her closeness and fear for her safety.”—The Wall Street Journal
- “Rijneveld’s language renders the world anew, revealing the shocks and violence of early youth through the prism of a Dutch dairy farm. The strangeness of a child looking at the strangeness of the world.”—International Booker Prize judges
- “Impressive. . . . It is the strange, haunting observations through which the child, Jas, tries to make sense of the grown-up world that gives this novel of grief its particular power. A book to read—and to remember.”—The Economist
Graywolf Press gratefully acknowledges the support of the Dutch Foundation for Literature and Dutch Culture USA.