Lucas Rijneveld

The Discomfort of Evening

Intense, poetic debut about the daughter in a God­fearing family coming to terms with the loss of her brother

In this fine debut novel, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld forces us to look at exactly what is seen, felt and tasted, not from a distancing helicopter perspective, but from close up, breathtakingly close up. The Discomfort of Evening takes the reader into an oppressive and repulsive world where detail is what matters.

Jas is mourning her dead brother, who drowned while skating. She is in the no-man’s-land between childhood and adulthood, and it is through her eyes that we see how the other members of her family deal with the loss. Jas feels totally misunderstood, she invokes her brother through strange rituals, she abandons herself to compulsive erotic games, she sees her parents as threatening, she resorts to torturing animals, she fantasises about God, she dreams of ‘the other side’ and of redemption. In short, the novel is about her vain attempt to be rescued.

We are not permitted to regard the intense adolescent Jas from a distance, as if observing some pathological case. No, we are deeply involved with her and we shudder. The novel is bursting with apt, sharp, gruesome, and sometimes funny images. Rijneveld lays everything bare.

Thank goodness for those funny images which give some relief and allow us to laugh! Broccoli florets are mini-Christmas trees, Jas’ mother’s withered breasts are like the collection bags in church. Rijneveld has written a daringly depressing novel, which can lead to sombre, self-pitying reflection. But what powerful writing, what a hunger for images, what a courageous writer.

  • International Booker Prize 2020

The deluge of images that Rijneveld unleashes on us is original, witty, sombre and necessary. This is how the story must be told, and in no other way… [the ending] hit me in the chest like a straight left. It goes on reverberating there.


It’s a story that’s told in a child’s voice, which is a very difficult thing to write, but it’s a voice that’s constantly searching for the words in which to express things. And through these words, we as adult readers really get the feeling of that very particular mixture of innocence, sharpness of pain, sharpness of disappointment that are in the child at the time when she is trying to tell the story.

Lucie Campos (jury member International Booker Prize)

The child’s world of Jas is often pitch­black and scary, but fortunately she is liberal with sparkling, witty imagery… Rijneveld closes her story in grandiose and determined fashion, while little Jas on the contrary opens something. What remain are shivers down the spine, astonishment and discomfort.

Algemeen Dagblad

It is immersive from the first or second page. And there’s little more that we can ask from great fiction.

Jeet Thayil (jury member International Booker Prize)


Lucas Rijneveld

Lucas Rijneveld (b. 1991) is considered one of the greatest new talents in Dutch literature. In 2015, he debuted with the poetry collection Kalfsvlies (Calf’s Caul), which was awarded the C. Buddingh’ Prize for best poetry debut and will soon be published in a Spanish translation. His second…

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De avond is ongemak (2018). Fiction, 272 pages.
Words: 77,323
Copies sold: 40,000


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