The Discomfort of Evening
WINNER OF THE BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE 2020
*WINNER OF THE BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE 2020*
*ONE OF THE GUARDIAN'S BEST BOOKS OF 2020*
'One of the best debut novels I have ever read. Shockingly good ... A classic.' Max Porter
The sensational Dutch bestseller:
'Exceptional' (Financial Times)
'Beautifully wild' (Guardian)
I asked God if he please couldn't take my brother Matthies instead of my rabbit. 'Amen.'
Ten-year-old Jas has a unique way of experiencing her universe: the feeling of udder ointment on her skin as protection against harsh winters; the texture of green warts, like capers, on migrating toads; the sound of 'blush words' that aren't in the Bible. But when a tragic accident ruptures the family, her curiosity warps into a vortex of increasingly disturbing fantasies - unlocking a darkness that threatens to derail them all.
A bestselling sensation in the Netherlands, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld's radical debut novel is studded with images of wild, violent beauty: a world of language unlike any other, exquisitely captured in Michele Hutchison's translation.
'THE MOST TALKED ABOUT DEBUT NOVEL OF 2020 ALREADY' [Dazed & Confused]
ONE OF VOGUE'S TOP FIVE DEBUTS OF 2020
ONE OF THE OBSERVER'S HIGHLIGHTS OF 2020
ONE OF THE GUARDIAN'S TOP TEN BEST NEW BOOKS IN TRANSLATION
Rijneveld's head-turning debut, a bestseller in their native Netherlands and a Booker International Prize nominee, puts a contemporary spin on classic wrath-of-God literature. Narrated by Jas, the prepubescent farm daughter of Dutch Reformists (Calvinist cousins to American Evangelicalism), the novel opens with the death of Jas's oldest brother, Matthies, who drowns in an ice-skating accident. His demise unspools an already dubious family harmony. The father grows distant; the mother, emaciated and portentous, claims Matthies's death to be a sign of the 10th biblical plague. . Another plague is referenced with the spread of foot-and-mouth disease in the livestock, and Jas tortures toads into mating, convinced it will help her parents to do the same. Meanwhile, Jas and her younger sister, Hanna, make plans to run away, while their older brother, Odde, devolves into a sadistic teenager. Like a scene in a Bosch painting, the macabre material is loaded with sexual transgressions, pedophilia, animal torture, and abuse. The onslaught can be numbing, but the translation's soaring lyricism offers mercy for the reader. In another biblical plague, absolute darkness descended upon the land for three days. Here it lasts for almost 300 pages, not lifting until the final line.