Skip to main navigation Skip to main content

The 2021 Graywolf Press African Fiction Prize is now open for submissions via Submittable through August 31, 2021.

The Discomfort of Evening

A Novel
Marieke Lucas Rijneveld; Translated from the Dutch by Michele Hutchison
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.

Share Title

Publication Date
Trim Size
5.5 x 8.25
A stark and gripping tale of childhood grief from one of the most exciting new voices in Dutch literature

About the Author

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld grew up in a Reformed farming family in North Brabant before moving to Utrecht. In addition to The Discomfort of Evening, they are also the author of two poetry collections. In addition to writing, Rijneveld works on a dairy farm.
More by author
Michele Hutchison is a literary translator from Dutch and French into English. Her recent translations include La Superba by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Roxy by Esther Gerritsen, and Fortunate Slaves by Tom Lanoye.
More by author


  • “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.

Back to Table of Contents