Young Dutch Writer Snatches The 2020 International Booker Prize
Yesterday the 2020 International Booker Prize announced its winner. This year it was handed to the youngest writer to win this prize - Marieke Lucas Rijneveld for her novel The Discomfort of Evening translated from Dutch by Michele Hutchison.
The Discomfort of Evening was chosen from a shortlist of six books. According to the Chair of the judges, Ted Hodgkinson: "We set ourselves an immense task in selecting a winner from our superb shortlist, filled with fiction bold enough to upend mythic foundations and burst the banks of the novel itself. From this exceptional field, and against an extraordinary backdrop, we were looking for a book that goes beyond echoing our dystopian present and possesses a timeless charge. Combining a disarming new sensibility with a translation of singular sensitivity, The Discomfort of Evening is a tender and visceral evocation of a childhood caught between shame and salvation, and a deeply deserving winner of The 2020 International Booker Prize."
29-year-old Marieke Lucas Rijneveld whose preferred pronouns are they/them was born in Nieuwendijk, Netherlands. The Dutch author grew up in a Reformed farming family in North Brabant before moving to Utrecht and, alongside their writing career, Rijneveld still works on a dairy farm.
The Discomfort of Evening tells the story of Jas and her devout farming family in a strict Christian community in rural Netherlands. One winter’s day, her older brother joins an ice skating trip. Resentful at being left alone, she attempts to bargain with God pitting the life of her pet rabbit against that of her brother; he never returns. As grief overwhelms the farm, Jas succumbs to a vortex of increasingly disturbing fantasies, watching her family disintegrate into a darkness that threatens to derail them all.
The International Booker Prize is awarded every year for a single book that is translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland. It aims to encourage more publishing and reading of quality fiction from all over the world and to promote the work of translators. Both novels and short-story collections are eligible. The contribution of both author and translator is given equal recognition, with the £50,000 prize split between them.