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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.

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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.
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  • “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
  • “The effects of the unspeakable grief felt by 10-year-old Jas’ family after the death of her beloved older brother are explored in painful and painstaking detail in this startling debut novel. . . . Rijneveld’s extraordinary narrator describes a small world of pain which is hard to look at and harder to ignore.”Kirkus Reviews, starred review
  • “Centring on a young girl whose brother dies in an ice-skating accident, [The Discomfort of Evening] takes the reader on a haunting journey. Rijneveld is also an award-winning poet, which shows in her sensory language and the beautifully wild images that linger in the mind.”—The Guardian (UK)
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