First Dutch author wins International Booker Prize
This week, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld became the first Dutch author to ever win the International Booker prize, with their novel The Discomfort of Evening.
Dutch author wins big
The 29-year-old is also the youngest ever winner of the prestigious prize, joining the long list of esteemed winners which includes Philip Roth, Olga Tokarczuk, and David Grossman. Upon winning, Rijneveld called it a great honour, saying they were as proud as a cow with seven udders.
The Discomfort of Evening, Rijneveld’s debut novel, has been praised as “visceral and virtuosic” by Ted Hodgkinson, chair of the International Booker’s judges. The author will split the 55.000 euro prize with their translator, Michele Hutchinson.
Rijneveld’s novel was in the company of other illustrious international novels: The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Iranian writer Shokoofeh Azar; The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara from Argentina: Tyll by German author Daniel Kehlmann: Hurricane Season by Mexican writer Fernanda Melchor: and The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa from Japan.
The Discomfort of Evening
The novel first hit shelves in Dutch in 2018 as De Avond is Ongemak. It follows the story of Jas, a girl growing up in a devout Christian family of farmers. Jas’ brother dies in an accident after Jas makes a wish that he would die instead of her beloved rabbit. Overcome with grief, Jas’ family falls apart as the young girl develops increasingly dangerous fantasies.
Similarly to their protagonist, Rijneveld grew up in a strict religious community on a farm in Nieuwendijk (near Rotterdam). At the age of three, they lost their 10-year-old brother. Rijneveld says they continue to work on a farm, even today - though not that of their parents - as the farm work keeps them grounded.
Rijneveld has revealed they are currently working on a new book: "I am working on it and we will see when it will come. Above all, it is very nice to be working on it and to work on something new."